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I  Euripides 

Bacchanals  etc. 


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2.  PLAYS  FROM  MOLIERE.     By  English  Dramatists.    ! 





6.  THE  PRINCE.     By  Machiavelli. 

7.  BACON'S  ESSAYS.    . 













7.  HOMER'S   ILIAD,  Translated  by  George  Chapman. 









25  and  26.  DON   QUIXOTE  (Two  Volumes). 

27.  BURLESQUE   PLAYS  AND  POEMS.  [lation 

28,  DANTE'S  DIVINE  COMEDY.     Longfellow's  Trans- 


30.  FABLES  and  PROVERBS  from  the  SANSKRIT. 



32.  THE     HISTORY     OF     THOMAS     ELLWOOD, 

Written  by  Himself. 


35.  DE     QUINCEY'S     OPIUM      EATER,     SHAKS^ 


36.  STORIES   OF   IRELAND.     By  Maria  Edgeworth. 

37.  THE   PLAYS  OF  A Kl STOPH A NES,  Translated  by 


38.  SPEECHES  AND   LETTERS.     By  Edmund  Burke. 

40.  POPULAR    SONGS    OF    IRELAND,    Collected   by 

Thomas  Crofton  Croker. 

41.  THE  PLAYS  of  ^SCHYLUS,  Translated  by  R.Potter. 

42.  GOETHE'S  FAUST,  the  Second  Part. 

44.  SOPHOCLES,  Translated  by  Francklin. 




47.  THE   BARONS'  ^WARS,  &c.     By  Michael  Drayton. 


49.  THE   BANQUET  OF  DANTE.     Translated  by  Eliza- 

beth Price  Sayer. 






55.  ESSAYS.     By  Winthrop  Mackworth  Praed. 

56.  TRADITIONAL  TALES.     Allan  Cunningham. 


Books  I.   to  IV. 


59.  WALTON'S     LIVES    OF     DONNE,    WOTTON, 




62.  RABELAIS'     HEROIC     DEEDS     OF     PANTA- 

GRUKL.     Books  III.,  IV.,  and  V. 


•Sallantgne  pxtgS 















1.  Sheridan's  Plays. 

2.  Plays  from  Moliire.  By 

English  Dramatists. 

3.  Marlorw^s   Faustus  and 

Goethe's  Faust. 

4.  Chronicle  of  the  Cid. 

5.  Pabelais^ Gargantua3.nii\it 

Heroic  Deeds  of  Pantagruel. 

6.  Machiavclli's  Prince. 

7.  Bacon's  Essays. 

8.  Defo^s  Journal  ot   the 

Plagrie  Year. 

9.  Locke  on  Civil  Government 

and  Fihiiet's  " Patriarcha." 

10.  Butler's  Analogy  of  Religion. 

11.  Dry  den's  Virgil. 

12.  Scotfs   Demonology  and 


13.  Merrick's  Hesperides. 

14.  Coleridge's  Table- Talk. 

15.  Boccaccio's  Decameron. 

16.  Sterne's  Tristram  Shandy. 

1 7.  Chapman' s  Hornet's  Iliad. 
iS.  AledJcEval  Tales. 

19.  Voltaire's  Candide,  and 

yoh'tson's  Rasselas. 

20.  fonson's  Plays  and  Poems. 

21.  Hobbes's  Leviathan. 

22.  Samuel  Butler's  Hudibras. 

23.  7(/^a/  Commonwealths. 

24.  Cavendish's  Life  of  Wolsey. 
25  &  26.  Z>tfM  Quixote. 

27.  Burlesque  Plays  and  Poems. 

28.  Dante's  Divine  Comedy. 

Longfellow's  Translation. 

29.  Goldsmith's  Vicar  of  Wake- 

field, Plays,  and  Poems. 

30.  Fables  and  Proverbs  from 

the  Sanskrit.     {Hitopadesa.) 

31.  Iamb's  Essays  of  Elia. 















The  History  of  Thomas 


Ej/ierson's  Essays,  &^c. 
Southey's  Life  of  Nelson. 
De    Quincey's    Confessions 

of  an  Opium-Eater,  &'c. 
Stories  of  Ireland.  By  Miss 

Frere's  Aristophanes; 

Acharnians,  Knights,  Birds. 
Burke's  Speeches  and  Letters. 

Thomas  h  Kempis. 
Popular  Songs  of  Ireland. 
Potter's  yEschylus. 
Goethe's  Faust:    Part    II. 

Anster's  Translation. 
Famous  Pamphlets. 
Francklin's  Sophocles. 
M.    G.   Lewis's    Tales    of 

Terror  and  Wonder. 

Vestiges    of  the    Natural 

History  oj  Creation. 
Drayton's  Barons'   Wars, 

Nytnphidia,  &'c. 
Cobbett's  Advice  to  Young 


The  Banquet  of  Dante. 
Walker's  Original. 
Schiller's    Poems    and 

Peele's  Plays  and  Poems. 
Harrington's  Oceana. 
Euripides :     A  Ices  lis     and 

otlier  Plays. 
Praeds  Essays. 
Traditional  Tales. 

Allan  Cunningham. 
Hooker's   Ecclesiastical 

Polity.     Books  I. -IV. 
Euripides :  The  Bacchanals 

ana  other  Plays. 

'  Marvels  of  clear  type  £ud  general  neatness." — Daily  Telegrafih. 


PA  _ 


The  beautiful  translation  of  "The  Bacchanals"  which  opens  this 
volume  was  made  by  the  late  Henry  Hart  Milman,  who^.\vas  Dean 
of  St.  Paul's  wlien  he  died  in  1868.  It  liad  its  origin  in  English 
verse  translations  made  to  illustrate  a  course  of  Latin  Lectures  on 
ihe  History  of  Gi'eek  Poetry,  delivered  when  Milman  had  made  his 
own  reputation  as  a  dramatic  poet  with  "  Fazio  "  in  1815,  "  The  Fall  of 
Jerusalem"  in  1820,  and  "  The  Martyr  of  Antioch  "  in  1821.  In  that 
vear  1821,  Milman — who  M'as  then  Vicar  of  St.  Mary's,  Reading — was 
elected  to  the  Oxford  Professorship  of  Poetry.  He  had  been  known 
in  Oxford  as  a  poet  frc-m  his  student  years.  In  1812  he  had  carried 
off  the  Newdigate  Prize  for  an  English  Poem  on  the  Apollo  Belvedere, 
and  he  had  three  times  obtained  the  Chancellor's  Prize.  As  Poetry 
Pi'ofessor  he  translated  specimens  of  the  Greek  Dramatists  upon 
whose  art  he  lectured.  These  translations  he  published  in  1865,  with 
a  development  of  two  of  the  plays — "The  Agamemnon"  of  ^schylus 
and  "The  Bacchanals"  of  Euripides — into  complete  versions.  The 
volume  in  which  these  plays  were  published,*  with  the  translated 
Passages  of  Greek  Poetry  which  had  been  set  in  the  lectures  given 
many  years  before,  is  a  beautiful  book,  illustrated  with  woodcuts  drawn 
from  antique  gems — the  sort  of  book  that  ranks  with  the  best  orna- 
ments of  a  well-furnished  home.  I  thank  most  heartily  the  poet's 
son,  Mr.  Arthur  Milman,  and  Mr.  John  Murray  the  publisher,  for 
leave  to  borrow  from  the  volume  this  ti-anslation  of  "  The  Bacchanals," 
for  the  purpose  of  giving  to  English  readers  a  fuller  sense  of  the 
genius  of  Euripides  than  they  might  get  from  the  faithful  last  century 
translators  upon  whom  we  have  chiefly  to  depend. 

The  other  plays  in  this  volume  are  given  in  the  translations  ot 
Michael  Wodhull,  who  published  in  1809  his  version  of  "  The  Nine- 
teen Tragedies  and  Fragments  of  Euripides."     Wodhull  had  published 

'  "  The  Agamemnon  of  yEschylus  and  the  Bacchanals  of  Euripides  with  Passages 
from  the  Lyric  and  Later  Poets  of  Greece."  Translated  by  Henrj'  Hart  Milman, 
D.D.,  Dean  of  St.  Paul's.     John  Murray.     1865. 


a  limited  edition  of  150  copies  of  his  own  Poems  in  1772,  and  published 
also  in  1798  a  poem  on  "  The  Ecjuality  of  Mankind  ;  "  but  he  did  not 
win,  as  Milman  has  won,  enduring  recognition  as  an  English  poei. 
He  spent,  however,  many  years  of  patient  work,  with  great  enjoyment, 
upon  the  endeavour  to  produce  an  accurate  translation  of  the  whole 
works  of  Euripides  that  now  remain.  His  first  design  was  to  translate 
selected  plays,  but  where  choice  was  difficult  and  zeal  was  active  there 
was  nothing  that  could  be  left  out.  WodhuU's  verse  has  too  many 
prosaic  turns,  but  it  is  well  that  the  English  reader  should  see  Euripides 
through  the  eyes  of  more  than  one  translator. 

Dean  Milman  translated  "  The  Bacchanals  "  because  he  regarded  it  as, 
on  the  whole,  entitled  to  the  highest  place  among  the  plays  of  Euripides, 
though  there  may  be  passages  of  more  surpassing  beauty  in  ''  Tl.e 
Medea"  and  "The  Hippolytus  ;"in  "The  Alcestis"  and  "  Iphigenia" 
of  greater  tenderness.  He  observed  that  even  Lord  Macaulay,  with  his 
contemjifuous  depreciation  of  Euripides,  acknowledged  the  transcendent 
excellence  of  "The  Bacclice,"  the  only  surviving  Greek  tragedy  con- 
nected with  the  worship  and  mystic  history  of  Dionysus — Bacchus. 

In  the  "  Christus  Patiens,"' ascribed  to  Gregory  of  Nazianzen,  who 
was  made  Bishop  of  Constantinople  in  the  year  380  and  died  in  389, 
some  lines  given  by  Euripides  to  Agave  in  "  The  Bacchanals  "  were  trans- 
ferred to  the  Virgin  Mary's  lament  over  her  son,  and  this  use  of  the 
passage  led  to  its  omission  from  all  texts  of  Euripides  that  have  come 
down  to  us.  "  I  have  been  audacious  enough,"  said  Dean  Milman, 
"to  endeavour  to  make  restitution  to  the  Heathen;  and  from  the 
hints  furnished  by  the  '  Christus  Patiens,'  and  of  course  other  images 
more  suited  to  her  tragic  state  as  the  murderess  of  her  son,  to  supply 
the  speech  of  Agave,  distinguishing  it  by  a  different  type." 

Michael  WodhuU  includes  in  his  volumes  as  a  guide  among  the 
incidents  of  many  of  the  Greek  Plays  a  "History  of  the  House  of 
Tantalus."     In  short,  it  runs  thus,  to  the  siege  of  Troy. 

Tmolus,  a  Lydian  king,  married  Pluta,  and,  Jupiter  intervening, 
Pluta  was  mother  of  Tantalus.  Tantalus  lived  at  Sipylus,  with  riches 
that  became  proverbial.  The  gods  came  to  dine  with  him,  but,  through 
vanity,  he  told  ^ain  their  counsels  that  he  heard,  for  which  he  was 
placed  after  death  to  thirst  in  the  midst  of  a  lake  from  which  it  was 
impossible  to  drink,  or  according  to  Euripides  (in  "Orestes")  had  an 
enormous  stone  hanging  over  his  head.  Tiiat  he  dished  up  for  the  gods 
the  limbs  of  his  son  Pelops,  Iphigenia  m  Tauris  calls  a  fable  of  savages 
who  excuse  their  own  cruelty  by  finding  its  like  in  higher  places. 
Tantalus  by  his  wife  Euryanassa  had  two  sons,  Pelops  and  Broteas,  and 
one  daughter,  Niobe.  Niobe  married  Amphion,  who  raised  the  walls  of 
Thebes  by  music  of  his  lyre.  Having  seen  all  her  children  slain  by  the 
shafts  of  Apollo  and  Diana,  Niobe,  all  tears,  was  changed  into  a  rock. 


The  tomb  of  her  seven  daughters  is  spoken  of  ia  the  play  of  "  The 
Phoenician  Damsels  "  as  not  far  from  the  gates  of  Thebes.  Sipylus,  in 
which  TantaUis  ruled,  was  swallowed  by  an  earthquake,  and  Tantalus, 
having  by  a  false  oath  denied  a  pledge,  was  killed  by  Jupiter,  who 
hunted  him  down  the  mountain  at  the  foot  of  which  Sipylus  stood. 

Pelops  succeeded  his  father  Tantalus.  Defeated  in  contests  with 
Ilus,  founder  of  the  Trojan  nation,  he  sought  alliance  with  Greece  by 
marrying  Hippodamia,  daughter  of  G<^nomaus,  king  of  Pisa.  She  was 
to  be  given  to  the  man  who  overcame  her  father  in  a  chariot  race,  but 
he  who  did  not  overcome  was  to  be  slain.  OEnomaus  was  first  always, 
because  his  chariot  was  driven  by  Myrlilus,  the  son  of  Mercury.  But 
Pelops  made  a  base  compact  with  Myrtilus,  who  joined  the  wheels  of 
Ginomaus  to  his  chariot  with  wax,  and  caused  his  overthrow  when 
in  the  race  with  Pelops.  A  dispute  followed,  in  which  Pelops  killed 
(iMiomaus  with  a  spear.  Pie  killed  also  Myrtilus,  the  son  of  Mercury, 
rather  than  fulfil  the  compact  he  had  made.  This  drew  down  the 
vengeance  of  Mercury  upon  Atreus  and  Thyestes,  the  two  eldest  of  the 
seven  sons  of  Pelops.  Pelops  himself  throve,  made  prosperous  alliances, 
and  gathered  into  one  the  territories  of  Apia  and  Pelasgia,  so  that 
the  whole  peninsula  of  Greece  was  called  after  him  the  Peloponnessus. 
One  of  his  sons,  Pittheus,  whom  Euripides  celebrates  for  piety,  was  the 
father  of  yEthra  who  was  the  mother  of  Theseus,  who  was  the  father 
of  Hippolitus.  Pelops  had  for  one  daughter  Anaxibia,  who  married 
Strophius,  king  of  Phocis,  and  was  the  mother  of  Pylade?,  friend  to  his 
kinsman  Orestes  ;  for  another  daughter,  Lysidice,  who  married  Electryon, 
king  of  Mycene,  and  was  the  mother  of  Alcmena,  who  married 
Amphitryon,  and  became  the  mother  of  Hercules.  Pelops  had  also 
another  daughter,  Nicippe,  who  married  Sthenelus.  He  seized  the  throne 
of  Mycene  when  Amphitryon  had  accidentally  killed  Electryon  his 
father-in-law.  Nicippe  and  Sthenelus  had  a  son  Eurystheus,  who 
succeeded  his  father  in  Mycene,  and  whose  ill-treatment  of  Hercules 
and  of  the  children  of  Hercules  is  treated  of  by  Euripides  in  his  play 
of  "  The  Children  of  Hercules." 

Pelops  had  also  a  natural  son,  Chrysippus,  who  was  treacherously 
stolen  from  him  by  Laius  his  guest.  For  this  breach  of  hospitality 
Laius,  as  the  oracle  foretold,  died  by  the  hands  of  his  own  son 

After  the  death  of  Pelops  his  eldest  sons  Atreus  and  Thyestes  ruled 
together  in  Argos  ;  until  Mercury  caused  a  ram  with  a  golden  fleece  to 
appear  among  the  flocks  of  Atreus,  who  took  it  as  a  sign  that  he  alone 
should  rule.  The  citizens  of  Argos  were  invited  to  decide.  Before 
they  met,  Thyestes,  by  collusion  with  /Erope  the  wife  of  Atreus, 
conveyed  the  Golden  Ram  into  his  own  stalls  and  obtained  the  vote 
of  the   people.     Atreus   in   revenge   caused   the   tMO  children  of  his 


false  wife  and  Thyestes  to  be  served  up  to  Tliyestes  at  a  feast.  At 
this  horror  portents  appeared  in  the  skies.  Atreus  drowned  /Erope, 
drove  Thyestes  out  of  Argos,  and  not  only  ruled  in  Argos  but  added 
Mycene  when  Eurystheus  had  been  slain  by  the  sons  of  Hercules. 
Hut  iEgisthus,  a  son  of  Thyestes  by  his  own  daughter  Pelopia,  murdered 
his  uncle  Atreus  and  made  his  father  again  king  in  Argos.  Atreus  had 
l.y  his  wife  /Erope,  before  she  gave  herself  to  Thyestes,  two  sons, 
Agamemnon  and  Menelaus.  They  were  sent  for  protection  against 
their  uncle  Thyestes  to  the  court  of  Polyidas,  king  of  Sicyon,  who  sent 
ihcm  on  to  fEneus,  king  of  (Etolia. 

Agamemnon,  while  thus  in  difficulties,  killed  a  Tantalus  junior, 
grandson  to  the  founder  of  the  family.  He  killed  this  Tantalus  that  he 
might  take  possession  of  his  wife  Clytemnestra,  daughter  to  Tyndarus, 
king  of  Sparta.  Euripides  in  the  "  Iphigenia  in  Aulis  "  makes  Clytem- 
nestra reproach  Agamemnon  with  having  also  killed  the  infant  child 
of  her  first  marriage  by  tearing  it  out  of  her  arms  and  dashing  it 
upon  the  floor.  Castor  and  Pollux,  sons  of  Leda  by  Jupiter  Swan,  made 
war  then  upon  Agamemnon  and  reduced  him  to  submission.  T)nidarus 
king  of  Sparta  then  gave  Clytemnestra  to  Agamemnon  for  a  wife,  and 
also  helped  him  and  his  brother  Menelaus  to  subdue  Thyestes,  who  took 
refuge  at  an  altar  of  Juno,  and  gave  himself  up  to  his  nephews  on 
promise  that  they  would  spare  his  life.  They  deposed  him  and  confined 
him  for  the  rest  of  his  days  in  the  island  of  Cithera. 

Clytemnestra's  sister,  tlie  other  daughter  of  Tyndarus,  king  of  Sparta, 
was  Helen,  who  had  the  chief  princes  of  Greece  for  suitors.  Tyndarus 
made  them  swear  to  support  whatever  man  she  miglit  herself  choose  for 
husband,  and  her  choice  fell  upon  Menelaus.  But  soon  after  the 
marriage  Paris,  one  of  the  sons  of  Priam,  king  of  Troy,  came  with  a 
splendid  following  to  Sparta,  and  while  her  husband  was  away  on 
business  at  Crete,  Paris  persuaded  Helen  to  elope  with  him.  Menelaus 
sent  to  demand  her  back  from  Troy.  The  Trojans  kept  her,  and  war 
followed  with  the  siege  of  Troy,  during  which,  according  to  Euripides 
in  his  play  of  "Helen,"  the  real  Helen  had  been  conveyed  by  Mercury 
through  the  air  and  placed  in  the  care  of  Proteus,  king  of  Egj'pt,  where 
she  remained  of  stainless  character,  while  Paris  at  Troy  had  only  a 
cloud-image  of  her.  Menelaus  on  his  return  from  the  ten  years'  war, 
driven  upon  the  coast  of  Egypt,  found  his  own  Helen  all  that  he  could 

H.  M. 
January  1888. 


The    Bacchanals. 



Chorus  of  Bacchanals. 



Second  Messenger. 


Unto  this  land  of  Thebes  I  come,  Jove's  son, 

Dionysus  ;  he  whom  Semele  of  yore, 
'Mid  the  dread  midwifery  of  hghtning  fire, 
Bore,  Cadmus'  daughter.     In  a  mortal  form, 
The  God  put  off,  by  Dirce's  stream  I  stand. 
And  cool  Ismenos'  waters  ;  and  survey 
My  mother's  grave,  the  thunder-slain,  the  ruins 
Still  smouldering  of  that  old  ancestral  palace, 
The  flame  still  living  of  the  lightning  fire, 
Here's  immortal  vengeance  'gainst  my  mother. 

And  well  hath  reverent  Cadmus  set  his  ban 
On  that  heaven-stricken,  unapproached  place. 
His  daughter's  tomb,  which  I  have  mantled  o'er 
With  the  pale  verdure  of  the  trailing  vine. 

And  I  have  left  the  golden  Lydian  shores, 
The  Phrygian  and  the  Persian  sun-seared  plains, 
And  Bactria's  walls  ;  the  Medes'  wild  wintery  land 


Have  passed,  and  Araby  the  Blest ;  and  all 
Of  Asia,  that  along  the  salt-sea  coast 
Lifts  up  her  high-towered  cities,  where  the  Greeks, 
With  the  Barbarians  mingled,  dwell  in  peace. 

And  everywhere  my  sacred  choirs,  mine  Orgies 
Have  founded,  by  mankind  confessed  a  God. 
Now  first  in  an  Hellenic  town  I  stand. 

Of  all  the  Hellenic  land  here  first  in  Thebes, 
I  have  raised  my  revel  shout,  my  fawn-skin  donned, 
Ta'en  in  my  hand  my  thyrsus,  ivy-crowned. 

But  here,  where  least  beseemed,  my  mother's  sisters 
Vowed  Dionysus  was  no  son  of  Jove  : 
That  Semele,  by  mortal  paramour  won, 
Belied  great  Jove  as  author  of  her  sin ; 
'Twas  but  old  Cadmus'  craft :  hence  Jove  in  wrath 
Struck  dead  the  bold  usurper  of  his  bed. 

So  from  their  homes  I've  goaded  them  in  frenzy  ; 
Their  wits  all  crazed,  they  wander  o'er  the  mountains. 
And  I  have  forced  them  wear  my  wild  attire. 
There's  not  a  woman  of  old  Cadmus'  race, 
But  I  have  maddened  from  her  quiet  house ; 
Unseemly  mingled  with  the  sons  of  Thebes, 
On  the  roofless  rocks,  'neath  the  pale  pines,  they  sit. 

Needs  must  this  proud  recusant  city  learn, 
In  our  dread  Mysteries  initiate, 
Her  guilt,  and  humbly  seek  to  make  atonement 
To  me,  for  Semele,  mine  outraged  mother — 
To  me,  the  God  confessed,  of  Jove  begot. 

Old  Cadmus  now  his  might  and  kingly  rule 
To  Pentheus  hath  given  up,  his  sister's  son, 
My  godhead's  foe  ;  who  from  the  rich  libation 
Repels  me,  nor  makes  mention  of  my  name 
In  holy  prayer.     Wherefore  to  him,  to  Thebes, 
And  all  her  sons,  soon  will  I  terribly  show 
That  I  am  born  a  God :  and  so  depart 
(Here  all  things  well  disposed)  to  other  lands, 
Making  dread  revelation  of  myself. 

But  if  this  Theban  city,  in  her  ire, 
With  arms  shall  seek  to  drive  from  off  the  mountains 


My  Bacchanal  rout,  at  my  wild  Maenads'  head 
I'll  meet,  and  mingle  in  the  awful  war. 
Hence  have  I  ta'en  the  likeness  of  a  man, 
Myself  transmuted  into  human  form. 

But  ye,  who  Tmolus,  Lydia's  strength,  have  left 
My  Thyasus  of  women,  whom  I  have  led 
From  lands  barbarian,  mine  associates  here. 
And  fellow-pilgrims  ;  lift  ye  up  your  drums, 
Famiiiar  in  your  native  Phrygian  cities, 
Made  by  your  mother  Rhea's  craft  and  mine  ; 
And  beat  them  all  round  Pentheus'  royal  palace. 
Beat,  till  the  city  of  Cndmus  throngs  to  see. 
I  to  the  Bacchanals  in  the  dim  glens 
Of  « ild  CithKron  go  to  lead  the  dance. 
Chor.     From  the  Asian  shore, 

And  by  the  sacred  steep  of  Tmolus  hoar, 

Light  I  danced  with  wing-like  feet, 

Toilless  toil  and  labour  sweet  1 

Away  !  away  !  whoe'er  he  be  ; 

Leave  our  path,  our  temple  free ! 

Seal  up  each  silent  lip  in  holy  awe. 

But  I,  obedient  to  thy  law, 
O  Dionysus  !  chant  the  choral  hymn  to  thee. 

Blest  above  all  of  human  hne, 
Who,  deep  in  mystic  rites  divine, 
Leads  his  hallowed  life  with  us, 
Initiate  in  our  Thyasus  ; 
And,  purified  with  holiest  waters, 
Goes  dancing  o'er  the  hills  with  Bacchus'  daughters. 
And  thy  dark  orgies  hallows  he, 

0  mighty  Mother,  Cybele  ! 
He  his  thyrsus  shaking  round. 
All  his  locks  with  ivy  crowned, 

O  Dionysus  I  boasts  of  thy  dread  train  to  be. 

Ijacchanals  !  away,  away  I 

1  ead  your  God  in  fleet  array  ; 
Bacchus  lead,  the  ever  young, 

A  God  himself  from  Gods  that  sprung, 


From  the  Phrygian  mountains  down 
Through  every  wide-squared  Grecian  town. 
Him  the  Theban  queen  of  yore 
'Mid  Jove's  fast-flashing  hghtnings  bore  : 
In  her  awful  travail  wild 
Sprung  from  her  womb  the  untimely  child, 
While  smitten  with  the  thunderblast 
The  sad  mother  breathed  her  last. 

Instant  him  Saturnian  Jove 
Received  with  all  a  mother's  love  ; 
In  his  secret  thigh  immured, 
There  with  golden  clasps  secured, 
Safe  from  Here's  jealous  sight ; 
Then,  as  the  Fates  fulfilled,  to  light 
He  gave  the  horndd  god,  and  wound 
The  living  snakes  his  brows  aroimd  ; 
Whence  still  the  wand(^d  Maenads  bear 
Their  serpent  prey  wreathed  in  their  floating  hair. 

Put  on  thy  ivy  crown, 

O  Thebes,  thou  sacred  town  ! 
O  hallowed  house  of  dark-haired  Semele  I 

Bloom,  blossom  everywhere, 

With  flowers  and  fruitage  fair, 
And  let  your  frenzied  steps  supported  be 

With  thyrsi  from  the  oak 

Or  the  green  ash-tree  broke  : 

Your  spotted  fawn-skins  line  with  locks 

Torn  from  the  snowy  fleecdd  flocks  : 
.Shaking  his  wanton  wand  let  each  advance, 
And  all  the  land  shall  madden  with  the  dance. 

Bromius,  that  his  revel  rout 
To  the  mountains  leads  about ; 
To  the  mountains  leads  along. 
Where  awaits  the  female  throng ; 
From  the  distaff,  from  the  loom, 
Raging  with  the  God  they  come. 
O  ye  mountains,  wild  and  high, 
Where  the  old  Kouretre  lie : 


Glens  of  Crete,  where  Jove  was  nurst, 
In  your  sunless  caverns  first 
The  crested  Korybantes  found 
The  leathern  drums  mysterious  round, 
That,  mingling  in  harmonious  strife 
With  the  sweet-breathed  Phrygian  fife, 
In  Mother  Rhea's  hands  they  place. 
Meet  the  Bacchic  song  to  grace. 
And  the  frantic  Satyrs  round 
That  ancient  Goddess  leap  and  bound : 
And  soon  the  Trieteric  dances  light 
Beg'.n,  immortal  Bacchus'  chief  delight. 

On  the  mountains  wild  'tis  sweet 

When  faint  with  rapid  dance  our  feet ; 

Our  limbs  on  earth  all  careless  thrown 

With  the  sacred  fawn-skins  strewn, 

To  quaff  the  goat's  delicious  blood,  • 

A  strange,  a  rich,  a  savage  food. 

Then  off  again  the  revel  goes 

O'er  Phrygian,  Lydian  mountain  brows ; 

Evoe  !  Evoe  !  leads  the  road, 

Bacchus  self  the  maddening  God  ! 
And  flows  with  milk  the  plain,  and  flows  with  wine. 
Flows  with  the  wild  bees'  nectar-dews  divine  ; 
And  soars,  like  smoke,  the  Syrian  incense  pale — 
The  while  the  frantic  Bacchanal 
The  beaconing  pine-torch  on  her  wand 
Whirls  around  with  rapid  hand, 
And  drives  the  wandering  dance  about, 
Beating  time  with  joyous  shout. 
And  casts  upon  the  breezy  air 
All  her  rich  luxuriant  hair ; 
Ever  the  burthen  of  her  song, 
*'  Raging,  maddening,  haste  along 
Bacchus'  daughters,  ye  the  pride 
Of  golden  Tmolus'  fabled  side  ; 
W^hile  your  heavy  cymbals  rinv;. 
Still  vour  *  Evoe  !  Evoe  ! '  sine: ! " 


Evoe  !  the  Evian  god  rejoices 
In  Phrygian  tones  and  Phrygian  voices, 
When  the  soft  holy  pipe  is  breathing  sweet, 

In  notes  harmonious  to  her  feet, 
Who  to  the  mountain,  to  the  mountain  speeds  ; 
Like  some  young  colt  that  by  its  mother  feeds, 

Gladsome  with  many  a  frisking  bouiid, 
The  Bacchanal  goes  forth  and  treads  the  echoing  ground. 

TiR.  Ho  !  some  one  in  the  gates,  call  from  his  p.ilace 
Cadmus,  Agenor's  son,  who,  Sidon's  walls 
Leaving,  built  up  this  towered  city  of  Thebes. 
Ho  !  some  one  say,  "  Tiresies  awaits  him." 
Well  knows  he  why  I  am  here  ;  the  covenant 
Which  I,  th'  old  man,  have  made  with  him  still  older, 
To  lift  the  thyrsus  wand,  the  fawn-skin  wear. 
And  crown  our  grey  liairs  with  the  ivy  leaves. 

Cad.  Best  friend  !  with  what  delight  within  my  palace 
I  heard  thy  speech,  the  speech  of  a  wise  man  ! 
Lo  !  I  am  here,  in  the  Gods'  sacred  garb  ; 
For  needs  must  we,  the  son  of  mine  own  daughter, 
Dionysus,  now  'mongst  men  a  manifest  God, 
Even  to  the  utmost  of  our  power  extol. 
Where  shall  we  lead  the  dance,  plant  the  light  foot, 
And  shake  the  hoary  locks  ?    Tiresias,  thou 
The  aged  lead  the  aged  :  wise  nrt  thou. 
Nor  will  I  weary  night  and  day  the  earth 
Beating  with  my  lithe  thyrsus.     Oh,  how  sweetly 
Will  we  forget  we  are  old  ! 

TiR.  Thou'rt  as  myself : 

I  too  grow  young  ;  I  too  essay  the  dance. 

Cad.  Shall  we,  then,  in  our  chariots  seek  the  mountains? 

TiR.  It  were  not  the  same  homage  to  the  God. 

Cad.  The  old  man  still  shall  be  the  old  man's  tutor. 

TiR.  The  God  will  guide  us  thither  without  toil. 

Cad.  Of  all  the  land,  join  we  alone  the  dance? 

TiR.  All  else  misjudge  ;  we  only  are  the  wise. 

Cad.  Too  long  we  linger  ;  hold  thou  fast  mine  Imnd. 

TiR.  Lo  I  thus  true  yoke-fellows  join  hand  with  hand. 

Cad.  I,  mortal-born,  may  not  despise  the  Gods. 


TiR.  No  wile,  no  paltering  with  the  deities. 
The  ancestral  faith,  coeval  with  our  race, 
No  subtle  reasoning,  if  it  soar  aloft 
Even  to  the  height  of  wisdom,  can  o'enhrow. 
Some  one  will  say  that  I  disgrace  mine  age, 
Rapt  in  the   dance,  and  ivy-crowned  my  head. 
The  Gods  admit  no  difference  :  old  or  young, 
All  it  behoves  to  mingle  in  the  rite. 
From  all  he  will  receive  the  common  honour, 
Nor  deign  to  count  his  countless  votaries. 

Cad.  Since  thou,  Tiresias,  seest  not  day's  sweet  light, 
I,  as  thy  Seer,  must  tell  thee  what  is  coming. 
Lo,  Pentheus,  hurrying  homewards  to  his  palace, 
Echion's  son,  to  whom  I  have  given  the  kingdom. 
He  is  strangely  moved  !     Wiiat  new  thing  will  he  say  ? 

Pen.  I  have  been  absent  from  this  land,  and  hear 
Of  strange  and  evil  doings  in  the  city. 
Our  women  all  have  left  their  homes,  to  j  jin 
These  fabled  mysteries.     On  the  shadowy  rocks 
Frequent  they  sit,  this  God  of  yesterday, 
Dionysus,  whosoe'er  he  be,  with  revels 
Dishonourable  honouring.     In  the  midst 
Stand  the  crowned  goblets ;  and  each  stealing  forth, 
This  way  and  that,  creeps  to  a  lawless  bed  ; 
In  pretext,  holy  sacrificing  ]\Ucnads, 
But  serving  Aphrodite  more  than  Bacchus. 
All  whom  I've  apprehended,  in  their  g^'ves 
Our  officers  guard  in  the  public  prison. 
Tiiose  that  have  'scaped  I'll  hunt  from  off  the  mountains, 
I  no.  Agave  who  to  Echion  bare  me, 
Her  too,  Auton  le,  Anl^sus'  mother; 
And  fettering  them  all  in  iron  bonds, 
I'll  put  an  end  to  their  mad  wickedness. 
'Tis  said  a  stranger  hath  appeared  among  us, 
A  wizard,  sorcerer,  from  the  land  of  Lydia, 
Beauteous  with  golden  locks  and  purple  cheeks, 
Eyes  moist  with  Aphrodite's  melting  fire. 
And  day  and  night  he  is  with  the  throng,  to  guile 
Young  maidens  to  the  soft  inebriate  rites. 


But  if  I  catch  him  'neath  this  roof,  I'll  silence 

The  beating  of  his  thyrsus,  stay  his  locks' 

Wild  tossing,  from  his  body  severing  his  neck. 

He,  say  they,  is  the  new  God,  Dionysus, 

That  was  sewn  up  within  the  thigh  of  Jove, 

He,  with  his  mother,  guiltily  that  boasted 

Herself  Jove's  bride,  was  blasted  by  the  lightning. 

Are  not  such  deeds  deserving  the  base  halter  ? 

Sin  heaped  on  sin  !  whoe'er  this  stranger  be. 
But  lo,  new  wonders  !  see  I  not  Tiresins, 

The  prophet,  in  the  dappled  fawn-skin  clad  ? 

My  mother's  father  too  (a  sight  for  laughter  !) 

Tossing  his  hair .''     My  sire,  I  blush  for  thee, 

Beholding  thine  old  age  thus  fatuous  grown. 

Wilt  not  shake  off  that  ivy  ?  free  thine  hand 

From  that  unseemly  wand,  my  mother's  father  1 

This  is  thy  work,  Tiresias.      This  new  God 

Wilt  thou  instal  'mongst  men,  at  higher  price 

To  vend  new  auspices,  and  well  paid  offerings. 

If  thine  old  age  were  not  thy  safeguard,  thou 

Shouldst  pine  in  chains  among  the  Bacchanal  women. 

False  teacher  of  new  rites  !     For  where  'mong  women 
The  grape's  sweet  poison  mingles  with  the  feast, 
Nought  holy  may  we  augur  of  such  worship. 

Chor.  Oh  impious  !  dost  thou  not  revere  the  Gods, 
Nor  Cadmus,  who  the  earth-born  harvest  sowed  .-• 
Echion's  son  !  how  dost  thou  shame  thy  lineage  ! 

TiR.  'Tis  easy  to  be  eloquent,  for  him 
That's  skilled  in  speech,  and  hath  a  stirring  theme. 
Thou  hast  the  flowing  tongue  as  of  a  wise  man, 
But  there's  no  wisdom  in  thy  fluent  words  ; 
For  the  bold  demagogue,  powerful  in  speech. 
Is  but  a  dangerous  citizen,  lacking  sense. 
This  the  new  deity  thou  laugh'st  to  scorn, 
I  may  not  say  how  mighty  he  will  be 
Throughout  all  Hellas.     Youth  !  there  are  two  things 
Man's  primal  need,  Demeter,  the  boon  Goddess 
(Or  rather  will  ye  call  her  Mother  Earth  ?), 
With  solid  food  maintains  the  race  of  man. 


He,  on  the  other  hand,  the  son  of  Semele, 

Found  out  the  grape's  rich  juice,  and  taught  us  mortals 

That  which  beguiles  the  miserable  of  mankind 

Of  sorrow,  when  they  quaff  the  vine's  rich  stream. 

Sleep  too,  and  drowsy  oblivion  of  care 

He  gives,  all-healing  medicine  of  our  woes. 

He  'mong  the  gods  is  worshipped  a  great  god, 

Author  confessed  to  man  of  such  rich  blessmgs. 

Him  dost  thou  laugh  to  scorn,  as  in  Jove's  thigh 

Sewn  up.     This  truth  profound  will  I  unfold  : 

When  Jove  had  snatched  him  from  the  lightning-fire, 

He  to  Olympus  bore  the  new-born  babe. 

Stern  Here  strove  to  thrust  him  out  of  heaven, 

But  Jove  encountered  her  with  wiles  divine : 

He  clove  off  part  of  th'  earth-encircling  air, 

There  Dionysus  placed  the  pleasing  hostage, 

Aloof  from  jealous  Her&.     So  men  said 

Hereafter  he  was  cradled  in  Jove's  thigh 

(From  the  assonance  of  words  in  our  old  tongue 

For  thigh  and  hostage  the  wild  fable  grew). 

A  prophet  is  our  god,  for  Bacchanalism 

And  madness  are  alike  prophetical. 

And  when  the  god  comes  down  in  all  his  power, 

He  makes  the  mad  to  rave  of  things  to  come. 

Of  Ares  he  hath  attributes  :  he  the  host 

In  all  its  firm  array  and  serried  arms, 

With  panic  fear  scatters,  ere  lance  cross  lance  : 

From  Dionysus  springs  this  frenzy  too. 

And  him  shall  we  behold  on  Delphi's  crags 
Leaping,  with  his  pine  torches  fighting  up 
The  rifts  of  the  twin-headed  rock  ;  and  shouting 
And  shaking  all  around  his  Bacchic  wand 
Great  through  all  Hellas.     Pentheus,  be  advised  ! 
Vaunt  not  thy  power  o'er  man,  even  if  thou  thinkest 
That  thou  art  wise  (it  is  diseased,  thy  thought). 
Think  it  not  I     In  the  land  receive  the  god. 
Pour  wine,  and  join  the  dance,  and  crown  thy  brows. 
Dionysus  does  not  force  our  modest  matrons 
To  the  soft  Cyprian  rites  ;  the  chaste  by  nature 


Are  not  so  cheated  of  their  chastity. 

Think  well  of  this,  for  in  the  Bacchic  choir 

The  holy  woman  will  not  be  less  holy. 

Thou'rt  proud,  when  men  to  greet  thee  throng  the  gates, 

And  the  glad  city  welcomes  Pentheus'  name  ; 

He  too,  I  ween,  delights  in  being  honoured. 

I,  therefore,  and  old  Cadmus  whom  thou  mock'st, 
Will  crown  our  heads  with  ivy,  dance  along 
An  hoary  pair — for  dance  perforce  we  must ; 
I  war  not  with  the  gods.     Follow  my  counsel ; 
Thou'rt  at  the  height  of  madness,  there's  no  medicine 
Can  minister  to  disease  so  deep  as  thine. 

Chor.  Old  man  !  thou  sham'st  not  Phoebus  thine  own  god. 
Wise  art  thou  worshipping  that  great  god  Bromius. 

Cad.  My  son  !  Tiresias  well  hath  counselled  thee  ; 
Dwell  safe  with  us  within  the  pale  of  law. 
Now  thou  fliest  high  :  thy  sense  is  void  of  sense. 
Even  if,  as  thou  declar'st,  he  were  no  god, 
Call  thou  him  god.     It  were  a  splendid  falsehood 
If  Semele  be  thought  t'  have  borne  a  god  ; 
'Twere  honour  unto  us  and  to  our  race. 
Hast  thou  not  seen  Actaeon's  wretched  fate .'' 
The  dogs  he  bred,  who  fed  from  his  own  board, 
Rent  him  in  wrath  to  pieces  ;  for  he  vaunted 
Than  Artemis  to  be  a  mightier  hunter. 
So  do  i.ot  thiui :  come,  let  me  crown  thine  head 
With  ivy,  and  with  us  adore  the  god. 

Pen.  Hold  off  thine  hand  !  Away  !  Go  rave  and  ciance, 
And  wipe  not  off  thy  folly  upon  me. 
On  him,  thy  folly's  teacher,  I  will  wreak 
Instant  relentless  justice.     Some  one  go. 
The  seats  from  which  he  spies  the  flight  of  birds — 
False  augur— with  the  iron  forks  o'erthrow, 
Scattering  in  wild  confusion  all  abroad, 
And  cast  his  chaplets  to  the  winds  and  storms  ; 
Tiiou'k  gall  him  thus,  gall  to  the  height  of  bitterness. 
Ye  to  the  city  !  seek  that  stranger  out, 
That  womanly  man,  who  with  this  new  disease 
Afflicts  our  matrons,  and  defiles  their  beds : 


Seize  him  and  bring  him  hither  straight  in  chains, 
That  he  may  suffer  stoning,  that  dread  death. 
Such  be  his  woful  orgies  here  in  Thebes. 

TiR.  Oh,  miserable  !  That  know'st  not  what  thou  saycst, 
Crazed  wert  thou,  now  thou'rt  at  the  height  of  madness  : 
But  go  we,  Cadmus,  and  pour  forth  our  prayer. 
Even  for  this  savage  and  ungodly  man, 
And  for  our  city,  lest  the  god  o'ertake  us 
With  some  strange  vengeance. 

Come  with  thy  ivy  staffi 
Lean  thou  on  me,  and  I  will  lean  on  thee : 
'Twere  sad  for  two  old  men  to  fall,  yet  go 
We  must,  and  serve  great  Bacchus,  son  of  Jove. 
What  woe,  O  Cadmus,  will  this  woe-named  man 
Bring  to  thine  house !  I  speak  not  now  as  prophet, 
But  a  plain  simple  fact  :  fools  still  speak  folly. 
Chor.  Holy  goddess  I  Goddess  old  ! 

Holy  I  thou  the  crown  of  gold 

In  the  nether  realm  that  wearest, 

Pentheus'  awful  speech  thou  hearest, 

Hearest  his  insulting  tone 

'Gainst  Semele's  immortal  son, 

Bromius,  of  gods  the  first  nnd  best. 

At  every  gay  and  flower-crowned  feast, 

His  the  dance's  jocund  strife, 

And  the  laughter  with  the  fife, 

Every  care  and  grief  to  lull, 

When  the  sparkling  wine-cup  full 

Crowns  the  gods'  banquets,  or  lets  fall 
Sueet  sleep  on  the  eyes  of  men  at  mortal  festival. 

Of  tongue  unbridled  without  awe. 
Of  madness  spurning  holy  law, 
Sorrow  is  the  Jove-doomed  close  ; 
But  the  life  of  calm  repose 
And  modest  reverence  holds  her  state 
Unbroken  by  disturbing  fate  ; 
And  knits  whole  houses  in  the  tie 
Of  swevt  domestic  harmony. 


Beyond  the  range  of  mortal  eyes 
'Tis  not  wisdom  to  be  wise. 
Life  is  brief,  the  present  clasp, 
Nor  after  some  bright  future  grasp. 
Such  were  the  wisdom,  as  I  ween, 
Only  of  frantic  and  ill-counselled  men. 

Oh,  would  to  Cyprus  I  might  roam, 

Soft  Aphrodite's  isle, 
Where  the  young  loves  have  their  perennial  home, 

That  soothe  men's  hearts  with  tender  guile  : 
Or  to  that  wondrous  shore  where  ever 
The  hundred-mouthed  barbaric  river 
Makes  teem  with  wealth  the  showerless  land  I 
O  lead  me  !  lead  me,  till  I  stand, 
Bromius  ! — sweet  Bromius ! — where  high  swelling 
Soars  the  Pierian  muses'  dwelling — 
Olympus'  summit  hoar  and  high — 
Thou  revel-loving  deity  1 
For  there  are  all  the  graces, 
And  sweet  desire  is  there, 
And  to  those  hallowed  places 
To  lawful  rites  the  Bacchanals  repair. 
The  deity,  the  son  of  Jove, 

The  banquet  is  his  joy, 
Peace,  the  wealth-giver,  doth  he  love, 

That  nurse  of  many  a  noble  boy. 
Not  the  rich  man's  sole  possessing ; 
To  the  poor  the  painless  blessing 
Gives  he  of  the  wine-cup  bright. 
Him  he  hates,  who  day  and  night, 
Gentle  night,  and  gladsome  day, 
Cares  not  thus  to  while  away. 
Be  ihou  wisely  unsevere  1 
Shun  the  stern  and  the  austere  1 
Follow  the  multitude ; 
Their  usage  slill  pursue  I 
Their  homely  wisdom  rude 
(Such  is  my  sentence)  is  both  right  and  true. 


Officer.  Pentheus,  we  nre  here  \  In  vain  we  went  not  foitli ; 
The  prey  which  thou  commanuest  we  have  taken. 
Gentle  our  quarry  met  us,  nor  turned  back 
His  foot  in  flight,  but  held  out  both  his  hands  ; 
Became  not  pale,  changed  not  his  ruddy  colour. 
Smiling  he  bade  us  bind,  and  lead  him  off, 
Stood  still,  and  made  our  work  a  work  of  ease. 
Reverent  I  said,  "  Stranger,  I  arrest  thee  not 
Of  mine  own  will,  but  by  the  king's  command." 
But  all  the  Bacchanals,  whom  thou  hadst  seized 
And  bound  in  chains  within  the  public  prison. 
All  now  have  disappeared,  released  they  are  leaping 
In  their  wild  orgies,  hymning  the  god  Bacchus. 
Spontaneous  fell  the  chains  from  oif  their  feet ; 
The  bolts  drew  back  untouched  by  mortal  hand. 
In  truth  this  man,  with  many  wonders  rife 
Comes  to  our  Thebes.    'Tis  thine  t'  ordain  the  rest. 

Pen.  Bind  fast  his  hands  I     Thus  in  his  manacles 
Sharp  must  he  be  indeed  to  'scape  us  now. 
There's  beauty,  stranger — woman-witching  beauty 
(Therefore  thou  art  in  Thebes) — in  thy  soft  form ; 
Thy  fine  bright  hair,  not  coarse  like  the  hard  athlete's, 
Is  mantling  o'er  thy  cheek  warm  with  desire  ; 
And  carefully  thou  hast  cherished  thy  white  skin  ; 
Not  in  the  sun's  swart  beams,  but  in  cool  shade, 
Wooing  soft  Aphrodite  with  thy  loveliness. 
But  tell  me  first,  from  whence  hath  sprung  thy  race  ? 

Dio.  There  needs  no  boast ;  'tis  easy  to  tell  this  : 
Of  flowery  Tmolus  hast  thou  haply  heard  ? 

Pen.  Yea ;  that  which  girds  around  the  Sardian  city. 

Dio.  Thence  am  I  come,  my  country  Lydia. 

Pen.  Whence  unto  Hellas  bringest  thou  thine  orgies  "i 

Dio.  Dionysus,  son  of  Jove,  hatii  hallowed  them. 

Pen.  Is  there  a  Jove  then,  that  begets  new  gods  ? 

Dig.  No,  it  was  here  he  wedded  Semele. 

Pen.  Hallowed  he  them  by  night,  or  in  the  eye  of  day  > 

Dio.  In  open  vision  he  revealed  his  orgies. 

Pen.  And  what,  then,  is  thine  orgies'  solemn  form  ? 

Dio.  That  is  not  uttered  to  the  uninitiate. 


Pen.  What  profit,  then,  is  theirs  who  worship  him  ? 
Dio.  Thouinayst  not  know,  though  precious  were  that  know- 
Pen.  a  cunning  tale,  to  make  me  long  to  hear  thee. 
Dio.  The  orgies  of  our  god  scorn  impious  worshippers. 
Pen.  Thou  saw'st  the  manifest  god  !     What  was  his  forai  ? 
Dio.  Whate'er  he  would  :  it  was  not  mine  to  choose. 
Pen.  Cleverly  blinked  our  question  with  no  answer. 
Dio.  Who  wiseliest  speaks,  to  the  fool  speaks  foolishness. 
Pen.  And  hither  com'st  thou  first  with  thy  new  god  ! 
Dio.  There's  no  Barbarian  but  adores  these  rites. 
Pen.  Being  much  less  wise  than  we  Hellenians. 
Dio.  In  this  more  wise.     Their  customs  differ  much. 
Pen.  Performest  thou  these  rites  by  night  or  dny  ? 
Dio.  Most  part  by  night — night  hath  more  solemn  awe. 
Pen.  a  crafty  rotten  plot  to  catch  our  women. 
Dio.  Even  in  the  day  bad  men  can  do  bad  deeds. 
Pen.  Thou  of  thy  wiles  shall  pay  the  penalty. 
Dio,  Thou  of  thine  ignorance — impious  towards  the  gods ! 
Pen.  He's  bold,  this  Bacchus — ready  enough  in  words. 
Dio.  What  penalty  ?  what  evil  wilt  thou  do  me  ? 
Pen.  First  will  I  clip  away  those  soft  bright  locks. 
Dio.  My  locks  are  holy,  dedicate  to  my  god. 
Pen.  Next,  give  thou  me  that  thyrsus  in  thine  hand. 
Dio.  Take  it  thyself;  'tis  Dionysus'  wand. 
Pen.  I'll  bind  thy  body  in  strong  iron  chains. 
Dio.  My  god  himself  will  loose  them  when  he  will. 
Pen.  When  thou  invok'st  him  'mid  thy  Bacchanals. 
Dio.  Even  now  he  is  present ;  he  beholds  me  now. 
Pen.  Where  is  he  then  ?     Mine  eyes  perceive  him  not. 
Dio.  Near  me  :  the  impious  eyes  may  not  discern  him. 
Pen.  Seize  on  him,  for  he  doth  insult  our  Thebes. 
Dio.  I  warn  thee,  bind  me  not ;  the  insane,  the  sane. 
Pen.  I,  stronger  than  thou  art,  say  I  will  bind  thee. 
Dio.  Thou  know'st  not  where  thou  art,  or  what  thou  art. 
Pen.  Pentheus,  A^ve's  son,  my  sire  Echion. 
Dio.  Thou  hast  a  name  whose  very  sound  is  woe. 
Pen.  Away,  go  bind  him  in  our  royal  stable, 
That  he  may  sit  in  midnight  gloom  profound  : 


There  lead  thy  dance  !     But  those  thou  hast  hither  led. 
Thy  guilt's  accomplices,  we'll  sell  for  slaves  ; 
Or,  silencing  their  noise  and  beating  drums, 
As  handmaids  to  the  distaff  set  them  down. 

DiO.  Away  then  !     "Tis  not  well  I  bear  such  wrong; 
The  vengeance  for  this  outrage  he  will  wreak 
Whose  being  thou  deniest,  Dionysus  : 
Outraging  me,  ye  bind  him  in  your  chains. 
Chor.  Holy  virgin-haunted  water  ! 

Ancient  Achelous'  daughter  I 

Dirce  !  in  ihy  crystal  wave 

Thou  the  child  of  Jove  didst  lave. 

Tiiou,  when  Zeus,  his  awful  sire, 

Snatched  him  from  the  immortal  fire  ; 

And  locked  him  up  within  his  thigh, 

With  a  loud  but  gentle  cry — 

"  Come,  my  Dithyrambus,  come. 

Enter  thou  the  masculine  womb  !  " 
Lo  !  to  Thebes  I  thus  proclaim, 

"  Twice  born  !  "  thus  thy  mystic  name. 

Blessed  Dirce  !  dost  thou  well 

From  thy  green  marge  to  repel 

Me,  and  all  my  jocund  round, 

With  their  ivy  garlands  crowned. 
Why  dost  fly  me  ? 
Why  deny  me  .'* 

By  all  the  joys. of  wine  I  swear, 

Bromius  still  shall  be  my  care. 

Oh,  what  pride  I  pride  unforgiven 

Manifests,  against  high  heaven 

Til'  earth-born,  whom  in  mortal  birth 

'Gat  Echion,  son  of  earth  ; 

Pentheus  of  the  dragon  brood, 

Not  of  human  flesh  nnd  blood  ; 

But  portent  dire,  hke  him  whose  pride, 

The  Titan,  all  the  gods  defied. 

Me,  great  Bromius'  handmaid  Irue ; 

Me,  with  all  my  festive  crew, 


Thralled  in  chains  he  still  would  keep 
In  his  palace  dungeon  deep. 

Seest  thou  this,  O  son  of  Jove, 
Dionysus,  from  above  ? 
Thy  rapt  prophets  dost  thou  see 
At  strife  with  dark  necessity  ? 
The  golden  wand 
In  thy  right  hand. 
Come,  come  thou  down  Olympus'  side, 
And  quell  the  bloody  tyrant  in  his  pride. 

Art  thou  holding  revel  now 
On  Nysas'  wild  beast-haunted  brow  ? 
Is't  thy  Thyasus  that  clambers 
O'er  Corycia's  mountain  chambers  ? 
Or  on  Olympus,  thick  with  wood, 
With  his  harp  where  Orpheus  stood, 
And  led  the  forest  trees  along, 
Led  the  wild  beasts  with  his  song. 

O  Pieria,  blessed  land, 
Evius  hallows  thee,  advancing, 
With  his  wild  choir's  mystic  dancing. 

Over  rapid  Axius'  strand 
He  shall  pass  ;  o'er  Lydia's  tide 
Then  his  whirling  Maenads  guide. 
Lydia,  p;irent  boon  of  health. 
Giver  to  man  of  boundless  wealth  ; 
Washing  many  a  sunny  mead, 
Where  the  prancing  coursers  feed. 
DiO.      What  ho  !  what  ho  I  ye  Bacchanals  ! 
Rouse  and  wake  !  your  master  calls. 
Chor.   Wiio  is  hore  ?  and  what  is  he 

That  calls  upon  our  wandering  train  ? 
DiO.      What  ho  !  what  ho  !  I  call  again  ! 

The  son  of  Jove  and  Semele. 
Chor.  What  ho  !  what  ho  !  our  lord  and  master : 
Come,  with  footsteps  fast  and  faster. 
Join  our  revel !     Bromius,  speed, 
Till  quakes  the  earth  beneath  our  tread. 
Alas  !  alas  ! 



Soon  shall  Pentheus'  palace  wall 
Shake  and  crumble  to  its  fall. 
Dio.        Bacchus  treads  the  palace  floor  ! 

Adore  him ! 
Chor.  Oh  I  we  do  adore  ! 

Behold!  behold! 
The  pillars  with  their  weight  above, 
Of  ponderous  marble,  shake  and  move. 
Hark  !  the  trembling  roof  within 
Bacchus  shouts  his  mighty  din. 
Dio.        The  kindling  lamp  of  the  dc.rk  lightning  bring  ! 

Fire,  fire  the  palace  of  the  guilty  king. 
Chor.     Beiiold  1  behold  !  it  flames  !    Do  ye  not  see, 
Around  the  sacred  tomb  of  Semele, 
The  blaze,  that  left  the  lightning  there, 
When  Jove's  red  thunder  fired  the  air  ? 
On  the  earth,  supine  and  low, 
Your  shuddering  limbs,  ye  Maenads,  throw  ! 
The  king,  the  Jove-born  god,  destroying  all, 
In  widest  ruin  strews  the  palace  wall. 
Dio.  O,  ye  Barbarian  women.  Thus  prostrate  in  dismay  ; 
Upon  the  earth  ye've  fallen  I     See  ye  not,  as  ye  may. 
How  Bacchus  Pentheus'  palace  In  wrath  hath  shaken  down  .-* 
Rise  up  I  rise  up  I  take  courage — Shake  off  that  trembling  swoon. 

Chor.  O  light  that  goodliest  shinest  Over  our  mystic  rite, 
In  state  forlorn  we  saw  thee — Saw  with  what  deep  affright ! 

Dio.  How  to  despair  ye  yielded  As  I  boldly  entered  in 
To  Pentheus,  as  if  captured.  Into  the  fatal  gin. 
Chor.  How  could  I  less  ?  Who  guards  us   If  thou  shouldst 
come  to  woe  ? 
But  how  wast  thou  delivered  From  thy  ungodly  foe  ? 

Dio.  Myself,  myself  delivered.  With  ease  and  effort  slight. 
Chor.  Thy  hands,  had  he  not  bound  them,  In  halters  strong 

and  tight  ? 

DlO.  'Twas  even  then  I  mocked  him  :  He  thought  me  in  his 

chain ;  [vain  1 

He  touched  me  not,  nor  reached  me  ;  His  idle  thoughts  were 

In  the  stable  stood  a  heifer,  Where  he  thought  he  had  me  bound  : 

Round  the  beast's  knees  his  cords  And  cloven  hoofs  he  wound. 


Wrath-breathing,  from  his  body  The  sweat  fell  like  a  flood  : 
He  bit  his  lips  in  fury,  While  I  beside  who  stood 
Looked  on  in  unmoved  quiet. 

As  at  ahat  instant  come, 
Shook  Bacchus  the  strong  palace,  And  on  his  mother's  tomb 
Flames  kindled.     When  he  saw  it,  On  fire  the  palace  deeminj, 
Hither  he  rushed  and  tliither,  For  "water,  water,"  screaming; 
And  every  slave  'gan  labour,  But  laboured  all  in  vain. 
The  toil  he  soon  abandoned.    As  though  I  had  fled  amain 
He  rushed  into  the  palace  :  In  his  hand  the  dark  sword  gleamed. 
Then,  as  it  seemed,  great  Bromius — I  say,  but  as  it  seemed — 
In  the  hall  a  bright  light  kindled.    On  that  he  rushed,  and  there, 
As  slaying  me  in  vengeance,  Stood  stabbing  the  thin  air. 
But  then  the  avenging  Bacchus  Wrought  new  calamities  ; 
From  roof  to  base  that  palace  In  smouldering  ruin  lies. 
Bitter  ruing  our  imprisonment,  With  toil  forspent  he  threw 
On  earth  his  useless  weapon.     Mortal,  he  had  dared  to  do 
'Gainst  a  god  unholy  battle.     But  I,  in  quiet  state, 
Unheeding  Pentheus'  anger,  Came  through  the  palace  gate. 
It  seems  even  now  his  sandal  Is  sounding  on  its  way  : 
Soon  is  he  here  before  us.  And  what  now  will  he  say  ? 
With  ease  will  I  confront  him,  Ire-breathing  though  he  stand. 
'Tis  easy  to  a  wise  man  To  practise  self-command. 

Pen.  I  am  outraged — mocke  i !  The  stranger  hath  escap  d  me 
Whom  I  so  late  had  bound  in  iron  chains. 
Off,  off!  He  is  here  ! — the  man  ?    How's  this  ?    How  stands  he 
B.fore  our  palace,  as  just  issuing  forth  ? 

Dio.  Stay  thou  thy  step  I     Subdue  thy  \vrath  to  peace ! 

Pen.  How,  having  burst  tliy  chains,  hast  thou  come  forth  ? 

Dio.  Said  I  not— heardst  thou  not.^    "There's  one  will  frei 

Pen.  What  one?  Thou  speakest  still  words  new  and  strange. 

Dio.  He  who  for  man  plants  the  rich-tendrilled  vine. 

Pen.  Well  layest  thou  this  reproach  on  Dionysus. 
Without  there,  close  and  bar  the  towers  around  1 

DlO.  What !  and  the  gods  !     O'crlcap  they  not  all  walls  ? 

Pen.  Wise  in  all  wisdom  save  in  that  thou  shouldst  have  .' 

Dio.  In  that  I  should  have  wisest  stil  am  I. 
But  listen  first,  and  hear  the  words  of  him 


Who  comes  to  thee  with  tidings  from  the  mountains. 
Here  will  we  stay.     Fear  not,  we  will  not  fly  ! 

Mes.  Pentheus,  that  rulest  o'er  this  land  of  Thebes  ! 
I  come  from  high  Cithaeron,  ever  white 
With  the  bright  glittering  snow's  perennial  I'ays. 

Pen.  Why  com'st  thou  i    On  what  pressing  mission  bound  ? 

Mes.  I've  seen  the  frenzied  Bacchanals,  who  bad  fled 
On  their  white  feet,  forth  goaded  from  the  land. 
I  come  to  tell  to  thee  and  to  this  city 
The  awful  deeds  they  do,  surpassing  w  onder. 
But  answer  first,  if  I  shall  freely  say 
All  that's  done  there,  or  furl  my  prudent  speech  ; 
For  thy  quick  temper  I  do  fear,  O  king, 
Thy  sharp  resentment  and  o'er-royal  pride. 

Pen.  Speak  freely.     Thou  shall  part  unharmed  by  iiie  ; 
Wrath  were  not  seemly  'gainst  the  unoffending. 
But  the  more  awful  what  thou  sayst  of  these 
Mad  women,  I  the  more  on  him,  who  hath  gulled  them 
To  their  wild  life,  will  wreak  my  just  revenge. 

Mes.  Mine  herds  of  heifers  I  was  driving,  slow 
Winding  their  way  along  the  mountain  crags. 
When  the  sun  pours  his  full  beams  on  the  earth. 
I  saw  three  bands,  three  choirs  of  women  :  one 
Autonoe  led,  thy  mother  led  the  second, 
Agave— and  the  third  Ino  :  and  all 
Quietly  slept,  their  languid  limbs  stretched  out : 
.Some  resting  on  the  ash-irees'  stem  their  tresses  ; 
Some  with  their  heads  upon  the  oak-leaves  thrown 
Careless,  but  not  immodest  ;  as  thou  sayest, 
That  drunken  with  the  goblet  and  shrill  fife 
I  a  the  dusk  woods  they  prowl  for  lawless  love. 
Thy  mother,  as  she  heard  the  horned  steers 
Deep  lowing,  stood  up  'mid  the  Bacchanals 
And  shouted  loud  to  wake  them  from  their  rest. 
They  from  their  lids  shaking  the  freshening  sleep, 
Rose  upright,  wonderous  in  their  decent  guise. 
The  young,  the  old,  the  maiden  yet  unwed. 
And  first  they  loosed  their  locks  over  their  shoulders, 
Their  fawn-skins  fastened,  wheresoe'er  the  clasps 


Had  lost  their  hold,  and  all  the  dappled  furs 

With  serpents  bound,  that  lolled  out  their  lithe  tongues. 

Some  in  their  arms  held  kid,  or  wild-wolf's  cub, 

Suckling  it  with  her  white  milk  ;  all  the  young  mothers 

Who  had  left  their  new-born  babes,  and  stood  with  breasts 

Full  swelling  :  and  they  all  put  on  their  crowns 

Of  ivy,  oak,  or  flowering  eglantine. 

One  took  a  thyrsus  wand,  and  struck  the  rock, 

Leaped  forth  at  once  a  dewy  mist  of  water  ; 

And  one  her  rod  plunged  deep  in  the  earth,  and  there 

The  god  sent  up  a  fountain  of  bright  wine. 

And  all  that  longed  for  the  white  blameless  draught 

Light  scraping  wiih  their  finger-ends  the  soil 

Had  streams  of  exquisite  milk  ;  the  ivy  wands 

Distilled  from  all  their  tops  rich  store  of  honey. 

Hadst  thou  been  there,  seeing  these  things,  the  god 
Thou  now  revil'st  thou  hadst  adored  with  prayer. 

And  we,  herdsmen  and  shepherds,  gathered  around. 
And  there  was  strife  among  us  in  our  words 
Of  these  strange  things  they  did,  these  marvellous  things. 
One  city-bred,  a  glib  and  practised  speaker, 
Addressed  us  thus  :  "  Ye  that  inhabit  here 
The  holy  mountain  slopes,  shall  we  not  chase 
Agave,  Pentheus'  mother,  from  the  Bacchanals, 
And  win  the  royal  favour  ?  "     Well  to  us 
He  seemed  to  speak  ;  so,  crouched  in  the  thick  bushes, 
We  lay  in  ambush.     They  at  the  appointed  hour 
Shook  their  wild  thyrsi  in  the  Bacchic  dance, 
"lacchus"  with  one  voice,  the  son  of  Jove, 
"Bromius"  invoking.     The  hills  danced  with  them  ; 
And  the  wild  beasts  ;  was  nothing  stood  unmoved. 

And  I  leaped  forth,  as  though  to  seize  on  her, 
Leaving  the  sedge  where  I  had  hidden  myself. 
But  she  shrieked  out,  "  Ho,  my  swift-footed  dogs  ! 
These  men  would  hunt  us  down,  but  follow  me — 
Follow  me,  all  your  hands  with  thyrsi  armed." 
We  fled  amain,  or  by  the  Bacchanals 
We  had  been  torn  in  pieces.     They,  with  hands 
Unarmed  with  iron,  rushed  on  the  browsing  steers. 


One  ye  might  see  a  young  and  vigorous  heifer 

Hold,  lowing  in  her  grasp,  like  prize  of  war. 

And  some  were  tearing  asunder  the  young  calves  ; 

And  ye  might  see  the  ribs  or  cloven  hoofs 

Hurled  wildly  up  and  down,  and  mangled  skins 

Were  hanging  from  the  ash  boughs,  dropping  blood. 

The  wanton  bulls,  proud  of  their  tossing  horns 

Of  yore,  fell  stumbling,  staggering  to  the  ground, 

Dragged  down  by  the  strong  hands  of  thousand  maidens. 

And  swifter  were  the  entrails  torn  away 

Than  drop  the  lids  over  your  royal  eyeballs. 

Like  birds  that  skim  the  earth,  they  glide  along 
OVr  the  wide  plains,  that  by  Asopus'  streams 
Shoot  up  for  Tiiebes  the  rich  and  yellow  corn  ; 
And  Hysia;  and  Erythra;,  that  beneath 
Cith^ron's  crag  dwell  lowly,  like  fierce  foes 
Invading,  all  with  ravage  waste  and  wide 
Confounded  ;  infants  snatched  from  their  sweet  homes  ; 
And  what  they  threw  across  their  shoulders,  clung 
Unfastened,  nor  fell  down  to  the  black  ground. 
No  brass,  nor  ponderous  iron  :  on  their  locks 
Was  fire  that  burned  them  not.     Of  those  they  spoiled 
Some  in  their  sudden  fury  rushed  to  arms. 
Then  was  a  mightier  wonder  seen,  O  king : 
From  them  the  pointed  lances  drew  no  blood. 
But  they  their  thyrsi  hurling,  javelin-like, 
Drave  all  before,  and  smote  their  shameful  backs  : 
Women  drave  men,  but  not  without  the  god. 

So  did  they  straight  return  from  whence  they  came, 
Even  to  the  fountains,  which  the  god  made  flow; 
Washed  off  the  blood,  and  from  their  cheeks  the  drops 
The  serpents  licked,  and  made  them  bright  and  clean. 
This  godhead  then,  whoe'er  he  be,  my  master  I 
Receive  within  our  city.     Great  in  all  things. 
In  this  I  hear  men  say  he  is  the  greatest — 
He  hath  given  the  sorrow-soothing  vine  to  man 
For  where  wine  is  not  love  will  never  be, 
Nor  any  other  joy  of  human  life. 

ChoR,  I  am  afraid  to  speak  the  words  of  freedom 


Before  the  tyrant,  yet  it  must  be  said  : 
"  Inferior  to  no  god  is  Dionysus." 

Pen.  'Tis  here  then,  like  a  wild  fire,  burning  on, 
This  Bacchic  insolence,  Hellas'  deep  disgrace. 
Off  with  delay  I     Go  to  the  Electrian  gates 
And  summon  all  that  bear  the  shield,  and  all 
The  cavalry  upon  their  prancing  steeds, 
And  those  that  couch  the  lance,  and  of  the  bow 
Twang  the  sharp  string.    Against  these  Bacchanals 
We  will  go  war.     It  were  indeed  too  much 
From  women  to  endure  what  we  endure. 

Dio.  Thou  wilt  not  be  persuaded  by  my  words, 
Pentheus!  Yet  though  of  thee  I  have  suffered  wrong, 
I  wani  thee,  rise  not  up  against  the  god. 
Rest  thou  in  peace.     Bromius  will  never  brook 
Ye  drive  his  Maenads  from  their  mountain  haunts. 

Pen.  Wilt  teach  me  ?    Better  fly  and  save  thyself, 
Ere  yet  I  wreak  st.rn  justice  upon  thee. 

Dio.  Rather  do  sacrifice,  th.m  in  thy  wrath 
Kick  'gainst  the  pricks — a  mortal  'gainst  a  god.  ' 

Pen.  I'll  sacrifice,  and  in  Cithaeron's  glens, 
As  they  deserve,  a  hecatomb  of  women. 

Dio.  Soon  will  ye  fly.     'T were  shame  that  shields  of  brass 
Before  the  Bacchic  thyrsi  turn  in  rout. 

Pen.  I  am  bewildered  by  this  dubious  stranger  ; 
Doing  or  suffering,  he  holds  not  his  peace. 

Dio.  My  friend  !     Thou  still  mayest  bring  this  to  good  end. 

Pen.  How  so  ?    By  being  the  slave  of  mine  own  slaves? 

Dio.  These  women — without  force  of  arms,  I'll  bring  them. 

Pen.  Alas  !  he  is  plotting  now  some  wile  against  me ! 

DlO.  But  what  if  I  could  save  thee  by  mine  arts  .-* 

Pen.  Ye  are  all  in  league,  that  yo  may  iiold  your  orgie;. 

Dio.  I  am  in  a  league  "tis  true,  but  with  the  god  ! 

Pen.  Bring  out  mine  armour !     Thou,  have  done  thy  speech  ' 

Dio.  Ha  !  wouldst  thou  see  them  seated  on  the  mountains  i 

Pen.  Ay  !  for  the  sight  give  thousand  weight  of  gold. 

Dio.  Why  hast  thou  fallen  upon  this  strange  desire  ? 

Pen.  'Twere  grief  to  see  them  in  their  drunkenness. 

Dio.  Yet  gladly  wouldst  thou  see,  what  seen  would  grieve  thee. 

Pen.  Mark  well  !  in  silence  seated  'neath  the  ash-trees. 


DiO.  But  if  thou  goest  in  secret  they  will  scent  ihee. 

Pen.  Best  openly,  in  this  thou  hast  said  well. 

Dio.  But  if  we  lead  thee,  wilt  tliou  dare  the  way  ? 

Pen.  Lead  on,  and  swiftly !     Let  no  time  be  lost ! 
_DlO.  But  first  enwrap  thee  in  these  linen  robes. 

Pen.  What,  will  he  of  a  man  make  me  a  woman  I 

DiO.  Lest  they  should  kill  thee,  seeing  thee  as  a  man. 

Pen.  Well  dost  thou  speak  ;  so  spake  the  wise  of  old. 

DiO.  Dionysus  hath  instructed  me  in  this. 

Pen.  How  then  can  we  best  do  what  thou  advisest  ? 

Dio.  I'll  enter  in  the  house,  and  there  array  thee. 

Pen.  W^hat  dress  ?    A  woman's  ?     I  am  ashamed  to  wear  it. 

Dio.  Art  thou  not  eager  to  behold  the  Maenads  ? 

Pen.  And  what  dress  sayst  thou  I  must  wrap  around  me  ? 

Dio.  I'll  smooth  thine  hair  down  lightly  on  thy  brow. 

Pen.  What  is  the  second  portion  of  my  dress  ? 

Dio.  Robes  to  thy  feet,  a  bonnet  on  thine  head. 

Pen.  Wilt  thou  array  me  then  in  more  than  this  ? 

Dio.  a  thyrsus  in  thy  hand,  a  dappled  fawn-skin. 

Pen.  I  cannot  clothe  me  in  a  woman's  dress. 

Dio.  Thou  wilt  have  bloodshed,  warring  on  the  Maenads. 

Pen.  'Tis  right,  I  must  go  first  survey  the  field. 

DiO.  'Twere  wiser  than  to  hunt  evil  with  evil. 

Pen.  How  pass  the  city,  unseen  of  the  Thebans  .? 

Dio.  We'll  go  by  lone  byways  ;  I'll  lead  thee  safe. 

Pen.  Aught  better  than  be  mocked  by  these  loose  Bacchanals. 
When  we  come  back,  we'll  counsel  what  were  best. 

Dio.  Even  as  you  will  :  I  am  here  at  your  command. 

Pen.  So  let  us  on ;  I  must  go  forth  in  arms, 
Or  follow  the  advice  thou  givest  me. 

Dio.  Women  !  this  man  is  in  our  net ;  he  goes 
To  find  his  just  doom  'mid  the  Bacchanals. 
Dionysus,  to  thy  work  I  ihou'rt  not  far  off; 
Vengeance  is  ours.     Bereave  him  first  of  sense  ; 
Yet  be  his  frenzy  slight.     In  his  right  mind 
He  never  had  put  on  a  woman's  dress  ; 
But  now,  thus  shaken  in  his  mind,  he'll  wear  it. 
A  laughing-stock  I'll  make  him  to  ail  Thebes, 
Led  in  a  woman's  dress  through  the  wide  city, 
For  those  fierce  threats  in  which  he  was  so  £;reat. 


IJiu  I  must  go,  and  Pentheus — in  the  garb 
Which  wearing,  even  by  his  own  mother's  hand 
Slain,  he  goes  down  to  Hades.     Know  he  must 
Dionysus,  son  of  Jove,  among  the  gods 
Mightiest,  yet  mildest  to  the  sons  of  men, 
Chor.  O  when,  through  the  long  night, 
With  fleet  foot  glancing  white. 
Shall  I  go  dancing  in  my  revelr)-. 
My  neck  cast  back,  and  bare 
Unto  the  dewy  air, 
Like  sportive  fawn  in  the  green  meadow's  glee  ? 
Lo,  in  her  fear  she  springs 
Over  th'  encircling  rings. 
Over  the  well-woven  nets  far  oft"  and  fast ; 
W^hile  swift  along  her  track 
The  huntsman  cheers  his  pack. 
With  panting  toil,  and  fiery  storm-wind  haste. 
Where  down  the  river-bank  spreads  the  wide  meadow, 

Rejoices  she  in  the  untrod  solitude. 
Couches  at  length  beneath  the  silent  shadow 
Of  the  old  hospitable  wood. 

What  is  wisest  ?  what  is  fnirest, 
Of  god's  boons  to  man  the  rarest  ? 
With  the  conscious  conquering  hand 
Above  the  foeman's  head  to  stand. 
What  is  fairest  st'll  is  dearest. 

Slow  come,  but  come  at  length, 

In  their  majestic  strength, 
Faithful  and  true,  the  avenging  deities : 

And  chastening  human  folly. 

And  the  mad  pride  unholy, 
Of  those  who  to  the  gods  bow  not  their  knees. 

For  hidden  still  and  mute, 

As  glides  their  printless  foot. 
The  impious  on  their  winding  path  they  hound. 

For  it  is  ill  to  know, 

And  it  is  ill  to  do, 
Beyond  the  law's  inexorable  bound. 


'Tis  but  light  cost  in  his  own  power  subUine 

To  array  the  godhead,  whosoe'er  he  be  ;- 
And  law  is  old,  even  as  the  oldest  time. 
Nature's  own  unrepealed  decree. 

What  is  wisest  ?  what  is  fairest. 
Of  god's  boons  to  man  the  rarest  ? 
With  the  conscious  conquering  hand 
Above  the  foeman's  head  to  stand. 
What  is  fairest  still  is  rarest. 

Who  hath  'scaped  the  turbulent  sea, 
And  reached  the  haven,  happy  he  ! 
Happy  he  whose  toils  are  o'er, 
In  the  race  of  wealth  and  power ! 
This  one  here,  and  that  one  there, 
Passes  by,  and  everywhere 
Still  expectant  thousands  over 
Thousand  hopes  are  seen  to  hover. 
Some  to  mortals  end  in  bliss  ; 

Some  have  already  fled  away  : 
Happiness  alone  is  his 

That  happy  is  to-day. 

Dio.  Thou  art  mad  to  see  that  which  thou  shouldst  not  see, 
And  covetous  of  that  thou  shouldst  not  covet. 
Pentheus  !  I  say,  come  forth  !     Appear  before  me, 
Clothed  in  the  Bacchic  Maenads'  womanly  dress ; 
Spy  on  thy  mother  and  her  holy  crew. 
Come  like  in  form  to  one  of  Cadmus'  daughters. 

Pen.  Ha  !  now  indeed  two  suns  I  seem  to  see, 
A  double  Thebes,  two  seven-gated  cities  ; 
Thou,  as  a  bull,  seemest  to  go  before  me, 
And  horns  have  grown  upon  thine  head.     Art  thou 
A  beast  indeed  ?    Thou  seem'st  a  very  bull. 

Dio.  The  god  is  with  us  ;  unpropiiious  once, 
But  now  at  truce  :  now  seest  thou  what  thou  shouldst  see  ? 

Pen.  What  see  1  ?     Is  not  that  the  step  of  Ino  ? 
And  is  not  Agave  there,  my  mother  ? 

Dio.  Meihinks  'tis  even  they  whom  thou  behola'at  ; 



But,  lo  !  this  tress  hath  strayed  out  of  its  place, 
Not  as  I  braided  it,  beneath  thy  bonnet. 

Pen.  Tossing  it  this  way  now,  now  tossing  that, 
In  Bacchic  glee,  I  have  shaken  it  from  its  place. 

Dio.  But  we,  whose  cliarge  it  is  to  watch  o'er  thee. 
Will  braid  it  up  again.     Lift  up  thy  head. 

Pen.  Braid  as  thou  wilt,  we  yield  ourselves  to  thee. 

DlO.  Thy  zone  is  loosened,  and  thy  robe's  long  folds 
Droop  outward,  nor  conceal  thine  ankles  now. 

Pen.  Around  my  right  foot  so  it  seems,  yet  sure 
Around  the  other  it  sits  close  and  well. 

Dio.  Wilt  thou  not  hold  me  for  thy  best  of  friends. 
Thus  strangely  seeing  the  coy  Bacchanals  ? 

Pen.  The  thyrsus — in  my  right  hand  shall  I  hold  it  ? 
Or  thus  am  I  more  like  a  Bacchanal  ? 

Dio.  In  thy  right  hand,  and  wiih  thy  right  foot  raise  it. 
I  praise  the  change  of  mind  now  come  o'er  thee. 

Pen.  Could  I  not  now  bear  up  upon  my  shoulders 
Cithaeron's  crag,  with  all  the  Bacchanals  ? 

Dio.  Thou  couldst  if 'twere  thy  will.     In  thy  right  mind 
Erewhile  thou  wast  not ;  now  thou  art  as  thou  shouldst  be. 

Pen.  Shall  I  take  levers,  pluck  it  up  with  my  hands, 
Or  thrust  mine  arm  or  shoulder  'neath  its  base  ? 

Dio.  Destroy  thou  not  the  dwellings  of  the  nymphs, 
The  seats  where  Pan  sits  piping  in  his  joy. 

Pen.  Well  hast  thou  said  ;  by  force  we  conquer  not 
These  women.     I'll  go  hide  in  yonder  ash. 

Dio.  Within  a  fatal  ambush  wilt  ihou  hide  thee, 
Stealing,  a  treacherous  spy,  upon  the  Maenads. 

Pen.  And  now  I  seem  to  see  them  there  like  birds 
Couching  on  their  soft  beds  amid  the  fern. 

Dio.  Art  thou  not  therefore  set  as  watchman  o'er  th<.m  ? 
Thou'lt  seize  them — if  they  do  not  seize  thee  first. 

Pen.  Lead  me  triumphant  through  the  land  of  Thebes  I 
I,  only  I,  have  dared  a  deed  like  this. 

Dio.  Thou  art  the  city's  champion,  thou  alone. 
Therefore  a  strife  thou  wot'st  not  of  awaits  thee. 
Follow  me  !  thy  preserver  goes  before  thee  ; 
Another  takes  thee  hence. 


Pen.  Mean'st  thou  my  mother  ? 

Dio.  Aloft  shalt  thou  be  borne. 
Pen.  O  the  soft  carriage  ! 

Dio.  In  thy  mother's  hands. 

Pen.  Wilt  make  me  thus  luxurious  ? 

Dio.  Strange  luxury,  indeed  ! 
Pen.  'Tis  my  desert. 

Dio.  Thou  art  awful ! — awful !     Doomed  to  awful  end  ! 
Thy  glory  shall  soar  up  to  the  high  heavens ! 

Stretch  forth  thine  hand,  Agave  ! — ye  her  kin, 
Daughters  of  Cadmus  !     To  a  terrible  grave 
Lead  I  this  youth!     Myself  shall  win  the  prize — 
Bromius  and  I  ;  the  event  will  show  the  rest. 

Chor.  Ho  !  fleet  dogs  and  furious,  to  the  mountains,  ho  ! 
Where  their  mystic  revels  Cadmus'  daughters  keep. 

Rouse  them,  goad  them  out, 
'Gainst  him,  in  woman's  mimic  garb  concealed. 
Gazer  on  the  Maenads  in  their  dark  rites  unrevealed. 
First  his  mother  shall  behold  him  on  his  watch  below. 
From  the  tall  tree's  trunk  or  from  the  wild  scaur  steep  ; 

Fiercely  will  she  shout — 
"  Who  the  spy  upon  the  Maenads  on  the  rocks  that  roam 
To  the  mountain,  to  the  mountain,  Bacchanals,  has  come.'"' 
Who  hath  borne  him  ? 
He  is  not  of  woman's  blood — 

The  lioness  ! 
Or  the  Lybian  Gorgon's  brood  ? 
Come,  vengeance,  come,  display  thee  ! 
With  thy  bright  sword  array  thee  ! 
The  bloody  sentence  wreak 
On  the  dissevered  neck 
Of  him  who  god,  law,  justice  hath  not  known, 
Echion's  earth-born  son. 

He,  with  thought  unrighteous  and  unholy  pride, 

'Gainst  Bacchus  and  his  mother,  their  orgies'  mystic  mirth 

Still  holds  his  frantic  strife, 
And  sets  him  up  against  the  god,  deeming  it  light 

To  vanquish  the  invincible  of  might. 

B  2 


Hold  thou  fast  the  pious  mind;  so,  only  so,  shall  glide 
In  peace  with  gods  above,  in  peace  with  men  on  earth, 

Thy  smooth  painless  life. 
I  admire  not,  envy  not,  who  would  be  otherwise  : 
Mine  be  still  the  glory,  mine  be  still  the  prize, 
By  night  and  day 
To  live  of  the  immortal  gods  in  awe  ; 

Who  fears  them  not 
Is  but  the  outcast  of  all  law. 

Come,  vengeance,  come  display  thee  ! 
With  thy  bright  sword  array  thee  ! 
The  bloody  sentence  wreak 
On  the  dissevered  neck 
Of  him  who  god,  law,  justice  has  not  known, 
Echion's  earth-bom  son. 

Appear !  appear  ! 
Or  as  the  stately  steer  ! 
Or  many-headed  dragon  be  ! 
Or  the  fire-breathing  lion,  terrible  to  see. 
Come,  Bacchus,  come  'gainst  the  hunter  of  the  Bacchanals, 

Even  now,  now  as  he  falls 
Upon  the  Maenads'  fatal  herd  beneath, 
With  smiling  brow. 
Around  him  throw  n 

The  inexorable  net  of  death. 

Mes.  O  house  mo:t  prosperous  once  throughout  all  Hellas ! 
House  of  the  old  Sidonian  ! — in  this  land 
Who  sowed  the  dragon's  serpent's  earth-bom  harvest — 
How  I  deplore  thee  !  I  a  slave,  for  still 
Grieve  for  their  master's  sorrows  faithful  slaves. 

Chor.  What's  this  ?    Aught  new  about  the  Bacchanals  ? 
Mes.  Pentheus  hath  perished,  old  Echion's  son. 
Chor.  King  Bromius,  thou  art  indeed  a  mighty  god  ! 
Mes.  What  sayst  thou  ?    How  is  this  ?     Rejoicest  thou, 

0  woman,  in  my  master's  awful  fate  ? 

CllOR.  Light  chants  the  stranger  her  barbarous  strains ; 

1  cower  not  in  fear  for  the  menace  of  chains. 

Mes.  All  Thebes  thus  void  of  courage  deemest  thou  ? 


ChOR.  O  Dionysus  !  Dionysus  !  Thebes 
Hath  o'er  me  now  no  power. 

Mes.  'Tis  pardonable,  yet  it  is  not  well, 
Woman,  in  others'  miseries  to  rejoice. 

Chor.  Tell  me,  then,  by  what  fate  died  the  unjust — 
The  man,  the  dark  contriver  of  injustice  ? 

Mes.  Therapnas  having  left  the  Theban  city, 
And  passed  along  Asopus'  winding  shore. 
We  'gan  to  climb  Cithaeron's  upward  steep — 
Pentheus  and  I  (I  waited  on  my  lord), 
And  he  that  led  us  on  our  quest,  the  stranger — 
And  first  we  crept  along  a  grassy  glade, 
With  silent  footsteps,  and  with  silent  tongues. 
Slow  moving,  as  to  see,  not  being  seen. 
There  was  a  rock-walled  glen,  watered  by  a  streamlet, 
And  shadowed  o'er  with  pines ;  the  Maenads  there 
Sate,  all  their  hands  busy  with  pleasant  toil ; 
And  some  the  leafy  thyrsus,  that  its  ivy 
Had  dropped  away,  were  garlanding  anew  ; 
Like  fillies  some,  unharnessed  from  the  yoke ; 
Chanted  alternate  all  the  Bacchic  hymn. 
Ill-fated  Pentheus,  as  he  scarce  could  see 
That  womanly  troop,  spake  thus  :  "  Where  we  stand,  stranger. 
We  see  not  well  the  unseemly  Maenad  dance: 
But,  mounting  on  a  bank,  or  a  tall  tree, 
Clearly  shall  I  behold  their  deeds  of  shame." 

A  wonder  then  I  saw  that  stranger  do. 
He  seized  an  ash-tree's  high  heaven-reaching  stem. 
And  dragged  it  down,  dragged,  dragged  to  the  low  earth ; 
And  like  a  bow  it  bent.     As  a  curved  wheel 
Becomes  a  circle  in  the  turner's  lathe, 
The  stranger  thus  that  mountain  tree  bent  down 
To  the  earth,  a  deed  of  more  than  mortal  strength. 
Then  seating  Pentheus  on  those  ash-tree  boughs, 
Upward  he  let  it  rise,  steadily,  gently 
Through  his  hands,  careful  lest  it  shake  him  off; 
And  slowly  rose  it  upright  to  its  height, 
Bearing  my  master  seated  on  its  ridge. 
There  was  he  seen,  rather  than  saw  the  Masnads, 


More  visible  he  could  not  be,  seated  aloft. 

The  stranger  from  our  view  had  vanished  quite. 

Then  from  the  heavens  a  voice,  as  it  should  seem 

Dionysus,  shouted  loud,  "  Behold  !  I  bring, 

O  maidens,  him  that  you  and  me,  our  rites, 

Our  orgies  laughed  to  scorn  ;  now  take  your  vengeance." 

And  as  he  spake,  a  light  of  holy  fire 

Stood  up,  and  blazed  from  earth  straight  up  to  heaven. 

Silent  the  air,  silent  the  verdant  grove 

Held  its  still  leaves  ;  no  sound  of  living  thing. 

They,  as  their  ears  just  caught  the  half-heard  voice. 

Stood  up  erect,  and  rolled  their  wondering  eyes. 

Again  he  shouted.     But  when  Cadmus'  daughters 

Heard  manifest  the  god's  awakening  voice, 

Forth  rushed  they,  fleeter  than  the  wingdd  dove. 

Their  nimble  feet  quick  coursing  up  and  down. 

Agave  first,  his  mother,  then  her  kin, 

The  Maenads,  down  the  torrent's  bed,  in  the  grove. 

From  crag  to  crag  they  leaped,  mad  with  the  god. 

And  first  with  heavy  stones  they  hurled  at  him, 

Climbing  a  rock  in  front ;  the  branches  some 

Of  the  ash-tree  darted  ;  some  like  javelins 

Sent  their  sharp  thyrsi  through  the  sounding  air, 

Pentheus  their  mark  :  but  yet  they  struck  him  not ; 

His  height  still  baffled  all  their  eager  wrath. 

There  sat  the  wretch,  helpless  in  his  despair. 

The  oaken  boughs,  by  lightning  as  struck  off, 

Roots  torn  from  the  earth,  but  with  no  iron  wedge, 

They  hurled,  but  their  wild  labours  all  were  vain. 

Agave  spake,  "  Come  all,  and  stand  around, 

And  grasp  the  tree,  ye  Maenads  ;  soon  we  will  seize 

The  beast  that  rides  theron.     He  will  ne'er  betray 

The  mysteries  of  our  god."    A  thousand  hands 

Were  on  the  ash,  and  tore  it  from  the  earth : 

And  he  that  sat  aloft,  down,  headlong,  down 

Fell  to  the  ground,  with  thousand  piteous  shrieks, 

Pentheus,  for  well  he  knew  his  end  was  near. 

His  mother  first  began  the  sacrifice. 

And  fell  on  him.     His  bonnet  from  his  hair 


He  threw,  that  she  might  know  and  so  not  slay  him, 
The  sad  Agave.     And  he  said,  her  cheek 
Fondling,  "  I  am  thy  child,  thine  own,  my  mother ! 
Pentheus,  whom  in  Echion's  house  you  bare. 
Have  mercy  on  me,  mother  I     For  his  sins, 
Whatever  be  his  sins,  kill  not  thy  son." 
She,  foaming  at  the  mouth,  her  rolling  eyeballs 
Whirling  around,  in  her  unreasoning  reason, 
By  Bacchus  all  possessed,  knew,  heeded  not. 
She  caught  him  in  her  arms,  seized  his  right  hand, 
And,  with  her  feet  set  on  his  shrinking  side, 
Tore  out  the  shoulder — not  with  her  own  strength  : 
The  god  made  easy  that  too  cruel  deed. 
And  I  no  laboured  on  the  other  side, 
Rending  the  flesh  :  Autonoe,  all  the  rest, 
Pressed  fiercely  on,  and  there  was  one  wild  din — 
He  groaning  deep,  while  he  had  breath  to  groan, 
They  shouting  triumph  ;  and  one  bore  an  arm, 
One  a  still-sandalled  foot ;  and  both  his  sides 
Lay  open,  rent.     Each  in  her  bloody  hand 
Tossed  wildly  to  and  fro  lost  Pentheus'  limbs. 
The  trunk  1  ly  far  aloof,  'neath  the  rough  rocks 
Part,  part  amid  the  forest's  thick-strewn  leaves, 
Not  easy  to  be  found.     The  wretched  head, 
Which  the  mad  mother,  seizing  in  her  hands, 
Had  on  a  thyrsus  fixed,  she  bore  aloft 
All  o'er  Cithaercn,  as  a  mountain  lion's, 
Leading  her  sisters  in  their  Maenad  dance. 
And  she  comes  vaunting  her  ill-fated  chase 
Unto  these  walls,  invoking  Bacchus  still, 
Her  fellow-hunter,  partner  in  her  prey, 
Her  triumph — triumph  soon  to  end  in  tears  ! 
I  fled  the  sight  of  that  dark  tragedy. 
Hastening,  ere  yet  Agave  reached  the  palace. 
Oh !  to  be  reverent,  to  adore  the  gods, 
This  is  the  noblest,  wisest  course  of  man, 
Taking  dread  warning  from  this  dire  event. 
Chor.  Dance  and  sing 

In  Bacchic  ring, 



Shout,  shout  the  fate,  the  fate  of  gloom, 
Of  Pentheus,  from  the  dragon  born  ; 
He  the  woman's  garb  hath  worn, 
Following  the  bull,  the  harbinger,  that  led  him  to  his  doom. 
O  ye  Theban  Bacchanals  ! 
Attune  ye  now  the  hymn  victorious, 

The  hymn  all  glorious, 
To  the  tear,  and  to  the  groan  ! 

O  game  of  glory  ! 
To  bathe  the  hands  besprent  and  gory, 

In  the  blood  of  her  own  son. 
But  I  behold  Agave,  Pentheus'  mother, 
Nearing  the  palace  with  distorted  eyes. 
Hail  we  the  ovation  of  the  Evian  god. 
Aga.       O  ye  Asian  Bacchanals  ! 
ChoR.    Who  is  she  on  us  who  calls? 
Aga.       From  the  mountains,  lo  !  we  bear 
To  the  palace  gate 
Our  new-slain  quarry  fair. 
Chor.  I  see,  I  see  !  and  on  thy  joy  I  wait. 
Aga.      Without  a  net,  without  a  snare, 
The  hon's  cub,  I  took  him  there 
Chor.  In  the  wilderness,  or  where  ? 
Aga.  Cithaeron — 

Chor.  Of  Cithaeron  what  ? 

Aga.  Gave  him  to  slaughter. 

Chor.  O  blest  Agave  ! 

Aga.  In  thy  song  extol  me, 

Chor.  Who  struck  him  first .? 

Aga.  Mine,  mine,  the  glorious  lot. 

Chor.  Who  else  ? 
Aga.  Of  Cadmus — 

Chor.  What  of  Cadmus'  daughter  ? 

Aga.      With  me,  with  me,  did  all  the  race 

Hound  the  prey. 
Chor.  O  fortunate  chase  ! 

Aga.      The  banquet  share  with  me  1 
Chor.  Alas  !  what  shall  our  banquet  be  ? 
Aga.      How  delicate  the  kid  and  young  I 


The  thill  locks  have  but  newly  sprung 
Over  his  forehead  fair. 
Chor.  Tis  beauteous  as  the  tame  beasts'  cherished  hair, 
Aga.  Bacchus,  hunter  known  to  fame  ! 

Did  he  not  our  Maenads  bring 
On  the  track  of  this  proud  game  ? 
A  mighty  hunter  is  our  king  ! 
Praise  me  !  praise  me! 
Chor.  Praise  I  not  thee  1 

Aga.    Soon  with  the  Thebans  all,  the  hymn  of  praise 
Pentheus  my  son  will  to  his  mother  raise: 
For  she  the  lion  prey  hath  won, 
A  noble  deed  and  nobly  done. 
Chor.  Dost  thou  rejoice  .'' 

Aga.  Ay,  with  exulting  voice 

My  great,  great  deed  I  elevate, 
Glorious  as  great. 
Chor.  Sad  woman,  to  the  citizens  of  Thebes 
Now  show  the  conquered  prey  thou  bearest  hither. 

Aga.  Ye  that  within  the  high-towered  Theban  city 
Dwell,  come  and  gaze  ye  all  upon  our  prey. 
The  mighty  beast  by  Cadmus'  daughter  ta'en  ; 
Nor  with  Thessalian  sharp-pointed  javelins, 
Nor  nets,  but  with  the  white  and  delicate  palms 
Of  our  own  hands.     Go  ye,  and  make  your  boast, 
Trusting  to  the  spear-maker's  useless  craft : 
We  with  these  hands  have  ta'en  our  prey,  and  rent 
The  mangled  limbs  of  this  gi  im  beast  asunder. 

Where  is  mine  aged  sire  .?     Let  him  draw  near  ! 
And  where  is  my  son  Pentheus  ?     Let  him  mount 
On  the  broad  stairs  that  rise  before  our  house  ; 
And  on  the  triglyph  nail  this  lion's  head, 
That  I  have  brought  him  from  our  splendid  chase. 

Cad.  Follow  me,  follow,  bearing  your  sad  burthen, 
My  servants— Pentheus'  body — to  our  house  ; 
The  body  that  with  long  and  weary  search 
I  found  at  length  in  lone  Cithaeron's  glens; 
Thus  torn,  not  lying  in  one  place,  but  wide 
Scattered  amid  the  dark  and  tangled  thicket. 


Already,  as  I  entered  in  the  city 
With  old  Tiresins,  from  the  Bacchanals, 
I  heard  the  fearful  doings  of  my  daughter. 
And  back  returning  to  the  mountain,  bear 
My  son,  thus  by  the  furious  Maenads  slain. 
Her  who  Actason  bore  to  Aristaeus, 
Autonoe,  I  saw,  and  Ino  with  her 
Still  in  the  thicket  goaded  with  wild  madness. 
And  some  one  said  that  on  her  dancing  feet 
Agave  had  come  hither — true  he  spoke  ; 
I  see  her  now — O  most  unblessed  sight  ! 
Aga.  Father,  'tis  thy  peculiar  peerless  boast 

Of  womanhood  the  noblest  t'  have  begot — 

Me — me  the  noblest  of  that  noble  kin. 

For  I  the  shuttle  and  the  distaff  left 

For  mightier  deeds — wild  beasts  with  mine  own  hands 

To  capture.     Lo  !  I  bear  within  mine  arms 

These  glorious  trophies,  to  be  hung  on  high 

Upon  thy  house  :  receive  them,  O  my  father  ! 

Call  thy  friends  to  the  banquet  feast !     Blest  thou  ! 

Most  blest,  through  us  who  have  wrought  such  splendid  deeds. 
Cad.  Measureless  grief !     Eye  may  not  gaze  on  it, 

The  slaughter  wrought  by  those  most  wretched  hands. 

Oh !  what  a  sacrifice  before  the  gods  ! 

All  Thebes,  and  us,  thou  callest  to  the  feast. 

Justly — too  justly,  hath  King  Bromius 

Destroyed  us,  fatal  kindred  to  our  house. 
Aga.  Oh  !  how  morose  is  man  in  his  old  age, 

And  sullen  in  his  mien.     Oh  !  were  my  son 

More  like  his  mother,  mighty  in  his  hunting, 

When  he  goes  forth  among  the  youth  of  Thebes 

Wild  beasts  to  chase  !     But  he  is  great  alone, 

In  warring  on  the  gods.     We  two,  my  sire. 

Must  counsel  him  against  his  evil  wisdom. 

Where  is  he  ?    Who  will  call  him  here  before  us 

That  he  may  see  me  in  my  happiness .'' 

Cad.    Woe  !    woe  !     When  ye  have  sense  of  what  ye  have 

With  what  deep  sorrow,  sorrow  ye  !    To  th*  end. 


Oh !  could  ye  be,  only  as  now  ye  are, 
Nor  happy  were  ye  deemed,  nor  miserable. 

Aga.  What  is  not  well  ?     For  sonow  what  the  cause  ? 

Cad.  First  lift  thine  eyes  up  to  the  air  around. 

Aga.  Behold!     Why  thus  commandest  me  to  gaze? 

Cad.  Is  all  the  same?     Appears  there  not  a  change? 

Aga.  'Tis  brighter,  more  translucent  than  before. 

Cad.  Is  there  the  same  elation  in  thy  soul  ? 

Aga.  I  know  not  what  thou  menn'st;  but  I  become 
Conscious — my  changing  mind  is  settling  down. 

Cad.  Canst  thou  attend,  and  plainly  answer  me  ? 

Aga.  I  have  forgotten,  father,  all  I  said. 

Cad.  Unto  whose  bed  wert  thou  in  wedlock  given  ? 

Aga.  Echion's,  him  they  call  the  Dragon-born. 

Cad.  Who  was  the  son  to  thy  husband  thou  didst  bear  ? 

Aga.  Pentheus,  in  commerce  'twixt  his  sire  and  me. 

Cad.  And  whose  the  head  thou  boldest  in  thy  hnnds  ? 

Aga.  a  lion's ;  thus  my  fellow-hunters  said. 

Cad.  Look  at  it  straight :  to  look  on't  is  no  toil. 

Aga.  What  see  I  ?     Ha !  what's  this  within  my  hands  ? 

Cad.  Look  on't  again,  again  :  thou  wilt  know  too  well. 

Aga.  I  see  the  direst  woe  that  eye  may  see. 

Cad.  The  semblance  of  a  lion  bears  it  now  ? 

Aga,  No  :  wretch,  wretch  that  I  am  :  'tis  Pentheus'  head ! 

Cad.  Evenereyet  recognized  thou  might'st  have  mourned  him. 

Aga.  Who  murdered  him  ?     How  came  he  in  my  hands  ? 

Cad.  Sad  truth  !    Untimely  dost  thou  ever  come    ! 

Aga.  Speak ;  for  my  heart  leaps  with  a  boding  throb. 

Cad.  'Twas  thou  didst  slay  him,  thou  and  thine  own  sisters. 

Aga.  Where  died  he  ?     In  his  palace  ?     In  what  place  ? 

Cad.  There  where  the  dogs  Acta^on  tore  in  pieces. 

Aga.  Why  to  Cithceron  went  the  ill-fated  man  ? 

Cad.  To  mock  the  god,  to  mock  the  orgies  there. 

Aga.  But  how  and  wherefore  had  we  thither  gone  ? 

Cad.  In  madness  I — the  whole  city  maddened  with  thee. 

Aga.  Dionysus  hath  destroyed  us  I     Late  I  learn  it. 

Cad.  Mocked  with  dread  mockery  ;  no  god  ye  held  him. 

Aga.  Father  !     Where's  the  dear  body  of  my  son  ? 

Cad.  I  bear  it  here,  not  found  without  much  toil. 


Aga.  Are  all  the  limbs  together,  sound  and  whole  ? 
And  Pentheus,  shared  he  in  my  desperate  fur}  ? 

Cad.  Like  thee  he  was,  he  worshipped  not  the  god. 
All,  therefore,  are  enwrapt  in  one  dread  doom. 
You,' he,  in  whom  hath  perished  all  our  house, 
And  I  who,  childless  of  male  offspring,  see 
This  single  fruit — O  miserable  ! — of  thy  womb 
Thus  shamefully,  thus  lamentably  dead — 
Thy  son,  to  whom  our  house  looked  up,  the  stay 
Of  all  our  palace  he,  my  daughter's  son. 
The  awe  of  the  whole  city.     None  would  dare 
Insult  the  old  man  when  thy  fearful  face 
He  saw,  well  knowing  he  would  pay  the  penalty. 
Unhonoured  now,  I  am  driven  from  out  mine  home; 
Cadmus  the  great,  who  all  the  race  of  Thebes 
Sowed  in  the  earth,  and  reaped  that  harvest  fair. 
O  best  beloved  of  men,  thou  art  now  no  more, 
Yet  still  art  dearest  of  my  children  thou  ! 
No  more,  this  grey  beard  fondling  with  thine  hand, 
Wilt  call  me  thine  own  grandsire,  thou  sweet  child. 
And  fold  me  round  and  say,  "  Who  doth  not  honour  thee  .'* 
Old  man,  who  troubles  or  afflicts  thine  heart  ? 
Tell  me,  that  I  may  'venge  thy  wrong,  my  father  ! " 
Now  wretchedest  of  men  am  I.     Thou  pitiable — 
More  pitiable  thy  mother — sad  thy  kin. 

0  if  there  be  who  scorneth  the  great  gods. 

Gaze  on  this  death,  and  know  that  there  are  gods. 

Chor.  Cadmus,  I  grieve  for  thee.     Thy  daughter's  son 
Hath  his  just  doom — just,  but  most  piteous. 

Aga.  Father,  thou  seest  ho  a-  all  is  changed  with  me ; 
/  atn  no  more  the  Mcenad  dancing  blithe, 

1  am  but  the  feeble,  fond,  and  desolate  mother. 
I  know,  I  see— ah,  knowledge  best  unknown  / 
Sight  best  unseen .' — /  see,  I  know  my  son, 
Mine  only  son  ! — alas  !  no  more  my  son. 

O  beauteous  limbs,  that  in  my  womb  I  bare  ! 
O  head,  that  on  my  lap  wast  wont  to  sleep  ! 
O  lips,  that  from  my  bosom's  swelling  fount 
Drained  the  delicious  and  soft-oozing  milk  ! 


O  hands  ^  whose  first  use  was  to  fondle  me  ! 

O  feet,  that  were  so  light  to  run  to  me  ! 

O  gracious  form^  that  men  wondering  beheld  ! 

O  haughty  brow,  before  which  Thebes  bowed  down  ! 

O  majesty  !  O  strength  !  by  mine  own  hands — ■ 

By  mine  own  murderous,  sacrilegious  hands — 

Torn,  rent  asunder,  scattered,  cast  abroad  ! 

O  thou  hard  god  /  was  there  no  other  way 

To  visit  us  ?     Oh  !  if  the  son  must  die. 

Must  it  be  by  the  hand  of  his  own  mother  ? 

If  the  impious  mother  must  atone  her  sin. 

Must  it  be  but  by  jnurdering  her  own  son  f 

Dio.  Now  hear  ye  all,  Thebes'  founders,  what  is  woven 
By  the  dread  shuttle  of  the  unerring  Fates. 
Thou,  Cadmus,  father  of  ihis  earth-born  race, 
A  dragon  shalt  become  ;  thy  wife  shalt  take 
A  brutish  form,  and  sink  into  a  serpent, 
Harmonia,  Ares'  daughter,  whom  thou  wedd'st, 
Though  mortal,  as  Jove's  oracle  declares. 
Thou  in  a  car  by  heifers  drawn  shalt  ride, 
And  with  thy  wife,  at  the  Barbarians'  head : 
And  many  cities  with  their  countless  host 
Shall  they  destroy,  but  when  they  dare  destroy 
The  shrine  of  Loxias,  back  shall  they  return 
In  shameful  flight  ;  but  Ares  guards  Harmonia 
And  thee,  and  bears  you  to  the  Isles  of  the  Blest. 

This  say  I,  of  no  mortal  father  born, 
Dionysus,  son  of  Jove.     Had  ye  but  known 
To  have  been  pious  when  ye  might,  Jove's  son 
Had  been  your  friend  ;  ye  had  been  happy  still. 

Aga.  Dionysus,  we  implore  thee  !     We  have  sinned  ! 

DiO.  Too  late  ye  say  so  ;  when  ye  should,  ye  would  not. 

Aga.  That  know  we  now  ;  but  thou'rt  extreme  in  vengeance. 

DiO.  Was  I  not  outraged,  being  a  god,  by  you  ? 

Aga.  The  gods  should  not  be  like  to  men  in  wrath, 

DiO.  This  Jove,  my  father,  long  hath  granted  me. 

Aga.  Alas,  old  man  !     Our  exile  is  decreed. 

DlO.  Why  then  delay  ye  the  inevitable? 

Cad,  O  child,  to  what  a  depth  of  woe  we  have  fallen  ! 


Most  wretched  thou,  and  all  thy  kin  beloved  ! 

I  too  to  the  Barbarians  must  depart, 

An  aged  denizen.     For  there's  a  prophecy, 

'Gainst  Hellas  a  Barbaric  mingled  host 

Harmonia  leads,  my  wife,  daughter  of  Ares. 

A  dragon  I,  with  dragon  nature  fierce, 

Shall  lead  the  stranger  spearmen  'gainst  the  altars 

And  tombs  of  Hellas,  nor  shall  cease  my  woes — 

Sad  wretch  I— not  even  when  I  have  ferried  o'er 

Dark  Acheron,  shall  I  repose  in  peace. 

Aga.  Father  I  to  exile  go  I  without  thee  ? 

Cad.  Why  dost  thou  clasp  me  ia  thine  arms,  sad  child, 
A  drone  among  the  bees,  a  swan  worn  out  ? 

Aga.  Where  shall  I  go,  an  exile  from  my  country  ? 

Cad.  I  know  not,  child  ;  thy  sire  is  a  feeble  aid. 

Aga.  Farewell,  mine  home  !    Farewell,  my  native  Thebes  I 
My  bridal  chamber  !     Banished,  1  go  forth. 

Cad.  To  the  house  of  Aristaeus  go,  my  child. 

Aga.  I  wait  for  thee,  my  father ! 

Cad,  I  for  thee ! 

And  for  thy  sisters. 

Aga.  Fearfully,  fearfully,  this  deep  disgrace. 
Hath  Dionysus  brought  upon  our  race. 

Dio.  Fearful  on  me  the  wrong  that  ye  had  done  ; 
Unhonoured  was  my  name  in  Thebes  alone. 

Aga.  Father,  farewell ! 

Cad.  Farewell,  my  wretched  daughter  1 

Aga.  So  lead  me  forth — my  sisters  now  to  meet, 
Sad  fallen  exiles. 

Let  me,  let  me  go, 
Where  cursed  Ciihseron  ne'er  may  see  me  more. 
Nor  I  the  cursed  Cithaeron  see  again. 
Where  there's  no  memory  of  the  thyrsus  dance. 
The  Bacchic  orgies  be  the  care  of  others. 



Mercury.  Xutiius. 

Ion.  Old  Man. 

Chorus  of  Creusa's  Femat.e  Servant  of  Creusa. 

Attendants.  PvTHtAN  Priestess. 

Creusa.  Minerva. 

SCEXE— The  Vestibule  of  Apollo's  Temple  at  Delphi. 


By  a  celestial  dame,  was  he  who  bears 

On  brazen  shoulders  the  incumbent  load 

Of  yonder  starry  heaven,  where  dwell  the  gods 

From  anfcient  times,  illustrious  Atlas,  sire 

To  Maia,  and  from  her  I,  Hermes,  spring, 

The  faithful  messenger  of  mighty  Jove. 

Now  to  this  land  of  Delphi  am  I  come, 

Where,  seated  on  the  centre  of  tlie  world, 

His  oracles  Apollo  to  mankind 

Discloses,  ever  chaunting  both  events 

Present  and  those  to  come.     Of  no  small  note, 

In  Greece,  there  is  a  city  which  derives 

Its  name  from  Pallas,  by  her  golden  spear 

Distinguished.     Phoebus  in  this  realm  compressed 

With  amorous  violence  Erectheus'  daughter, 

Creusa,  underneath  those  craggy  rocks 

North  of  Minerva's  citadel,  the  kings 

Of  Athens  call  them  Macra.     She  endured. 

Without  the  knowledge  of  her  sire  (for  such 

Was  the  god's  will),  the  burden  of  her  womb  : 


But  at  the  stated  time,  when  in  the  palace 

She  had  brought  forth  a  son,  she  to  that  cave, 

Where  she  th'  embraces  of  the  god  hath  known, 

Conveyed  and  left  the  child,  to  death  exposed, 

Lodged  in  the  hollow  of  an  orbed  chest, 

Observant  of  the  customs  handed  down 

By  her  progenitors,  and  Ericthonius, 

That  earth-born  monarch  of  her  native  land, 

Whom  Pallas,  daughter  of  imperial  Jove, 

Placing  two  watchful  dragons  for  his  guard, 

To  ihe  three  damsels  from  Agiaulos  sprung 

Entrusted.     Hence,  among  Erectheus'  race, 

E'en  from  those  times,  an  usai:e  hath  prevailed 

Of  nurturing,  'midst  serpents  wrought  in  gold, 

Their  tender  progeny.     Creusa  left, 

Wrapt  round  her  infant,  whom  she  thus  to  death 

Abandoned,  all  the  ornaments  she  had. 

Then  this  request,  on  my  fraternal  love 

Depending,  Phoebus  urged :  "  My  brother,  go 

To  those  blest  children  of  their  native  soil, 

The  famed  Athenians  (for  full  well  thou  know'st 

Minerva's  city),  from  the  hollow  rock 

Taking  this  new-born  infant,  and  the  chest 

In  which  he  lies,  with  fillets  swathed  around, 

Convey  to  my  oracular  abode, 

And  place  him  in  the  entrance  of  my  fane : 

What  still  is  left  undone  my  care  shall  add : 

For  know  he  is  my  son."     I,  to  confer 

A  kindness  on  my  brother  Phoebus,  bore 

The  wicker  chest  away ;  and,  having  oped 

Its  cover  that  the  infant  might  be  seen. 

Just  nt  the  threshold  of  this  temple  lodged. 

But  when  the  fiery  coursers  of  the  sun 

Rushed  from  heaven's  eastern  gate  in  swift  career. 

Entering  the  mansion  whence  the  god  deals  forth 

His  oracles,  a  priestess  on  the  child 

Fixed  her  indignant  eyes,  and  wondered  much 

What  shameless  nymph  of  Delphi  could  presume 

By  stealth  to  introduce  her  spurious  brood 

ION.  49 

Into  Apollo's  house.     She  was  inclined 

At  first  to  cast  him  from  the  sacred  threshold  ; 

But,  by  compassion  moved,  the  cruel  deed 

Forbore,  and,  with  paternal  love,  the  god 

Aided  the  child,  nor  from  his  hallowed  mansion 

Allowed  him  to  be  banished  :  him  she  took 

And  nurtured,  though  she  knew  not  from  what  mother 

He  sprung,  or  that  Apollo  was  his  sire. 

To  both  his  parents,  too,  the  boy  himself 

Remained  a  stranger.    While  he  yet  was  young, 

Around  the  blazing  altars,  whence  he  fed, 

Playful  he  roamed  ;  but  after  he  attained 

Maturer  years,  the  Delphic  citizens 

As  guardian  of  the  treasures  of  the  god 

Employed,  and  found  him  faithful  to  his  trist : 

Still  in  this  fane  he  leads  a  holy  life. 

Meanwhile  Creusa,  who  the  infant  bore, 

Wedded  to  Xuthus  :  fortune  this  event 

Thus  brought  to  pass  ;  a  storm  of  war  burst  forth 

'Twixt  the  Athenian  race  and  them  who  dwell 

In  Chalcis,  on  Euboea's  stormy  coast. 

In  concert  with  the  former  having  toiled. 

And  joined  in  the  destruction  of  their  foes, 

A  royal  bride,  Creusa,  he  obtained, 

Though  not  in  Athens  but  Achaia  born, 

The  son  of  ^olus,  who  sprung  from  Jove. 

He  and  his  consort  liave  been  childless  long, 

And  therefore  to  these  oracles  of  Phoebus 

Are  come  in  quest  of  issue.     This  event 

The  god  hath  caused  to  happen,  nor  forgets 

His  son,  as  some  suppose;  for  he,  on  Xuthus, 

Will,  at  his  entering  this  prophetic  dome, 

Freely  bestow,  and  call  the  stripling  his  ; 

That  when  he  comes  to  the  maternal  house, 

Creusa  may  acknowledge  him  she  bore. 

While  her  amour  with  Phoebus  rests  concealed, 

And  this  her  son  obtains  th'  inheritance 

Of  his  maternal  ancestors  :  through  Greece 

Th'  immortal  father  hath  decreed  his  son 


Shall  be  called  Ion,  the  illustrious  founder 
Of  Asiatic  realms.     But  I  must  go 
Among  the  laurel's  shadowy  groves,  and  learn 
From  this  young  prophet  what  the  fates  ordain  ; 
For  I  behold  Apollo's  son  come  forth, 
To  hang  the  branches  of  the  verdant  bay 
Before  the  portals  of  the  fane.     Now  first 
Of  all  the  gods  I  hail  him  by  his  name, 
The  name  of  Ion  which  he  soon  shall  benr. 

{^Exit  Mercury. 
Ion.  Now  the  resplendent  chariot  of  the  sun 
Shines  o'er  the  earth :  from  its  ethereal  fires, 
Beneath  the  veil  of  sacred  night,  the  stars 
Conceal  themselves.     Parnassus'  cloven  ridge, 
Too  steep  for  human  footsteps  to  ascend, 
Receives  the  lustre  of  its  orient  beams, 
And  through  the  world  reflects  them ;  while  the  smoke 
Of  fragrant  myrrh  ascends  Apollo's  roof; 
The  Delphic  priestess  on  the  holy  tripod 
Now  takes  her  seat,  and  to  the  listening  sons 
Of  Greece,  those  truths  in  mystic  notes  unfolds, 
With  which  the  gods  inspire  her  labouring  breast. 
But,  O  ye  Delphic  ministers  of  Phoebus, 
Now  to  Castalia's  silver  fount  repair. 
And  when  ye  have  performed  the  due  ablutions. 
Enter  the  temple  ;  let  no  word  escape 
Your  lips  of  evil  omen,  mildly  greet 
Each  votarj',  and  expound  the  oracles  • 

In  your  own  native  language.     But  ti.e  toils 
Which  I  from  childhood  to  the  present  hour 
Have  exercised,  with  laureate  sprays  and  wreaths 
Worn  at  our  high  solemnities,  to  cleanse 
The  vestibule  of  Phoebus,  I  repeat, 
Sprinkling  the  pavement  with  these  lustral  drops, 
And  with  my  shafts  will  I  repel  the  flocks 
Of  birds  who  taint  the  offerings  of  the  god. 
For  like  a  friendless  orphan,  who  ne'er  knew 
A  mother's  or  a  father's  fostering  care, 
In  Phoebus'  shrine,  which  nurtured  mc,  I  scrve> 

ION.  51 


In  recent  verdure  ever  gay, 

Hail,  O  ye  scions  of  the  bay. 
Which  sweep  Apollo's  fane ; 

Cropt  from  the  god's  adjacent  bowers. 

Where  rills  bedew  the  vernal  flowers, 
And  with  perpetual  streams  refresh  the  plain ; 

The  sacred  myrtle  here  is  found, 
Whose  branches  o'er  the  consecrated  ground 

I  wave,  as  day  by  day  ascends 
The  sun  with  rapid  wing, 

Waking  to  toil  which  never  ends. 
And  zealous  in  the  service  of  my  king. 
O  Pa:an,  Paean,  from  Latona  sprung, 

Still  mayst  thou  flourish  blest  and  young  ! 


My  labours  with  renown  shall  meet; 

O  Phoebus,  the  prophetic  seat 
Revering,  at  thy  fane 

A  joyful  minister  I  stand, 

Serving  with  an  officious  hand 
No  mortal,  but  the  blest  immortal  train. 

Nor  by  these  glorious  toils  opprest 
Am  I  ignobly  covetous  of  rest ; 

For  dread  Apollo  is  my  sire ; 
To  him,  to  him  I  owe 

My  being,  nurtured  in  his  choir. 
And  in  the  fostering  god  a  father  know. 
O  Paean,  P^ean,  from  Latona  sprung, 

Still  mayst  thou  flourish  blest  and  young ! 

But  from  this  painful  task  will  I  desist, 
And  with  the  laurel  cease  to  sweep  the  ground : 
Next,  from  a  golden  vase,  is  it  my  office 
To  pour  the  waters  of  Castalia's  fount. 
Sprinkling  its  lustral  drops :  for  I  am  free 
From  lust  and  its  pollutions.     May  I  serve 


Apollo  ever  thus,  or  cease  to  serve  him 
When  I  some  happier  fortune  shall  attain  ! 
But,  ha  !  the  birds  are  here,  and  leave  iheir  nests 
Upon  Parnassus :  wing  not  to  this  dome 
Your  flight,  and  on  the  gilded  battlements 
Forbear  to  perch.     My  arrows  shall  transpierce  thee, 
Herald  of  Jove,  O  thou,  whose  hooked  beak 
Subdues  the  might  of  all  the  feathered  tribes. 
But  lo  !  another  comes  !     The  swan  his  course 
Steers  to  the  altar.     Wilt  thou  not  retire 
Hence  with  those  purple  feet  ?    Apollo's  lyre, 
In  concert  warbling  with  thy  dulcet  strains, 
Shall  not  redeem  thee  from  my  bow  :  direct 
Thy  passage  to  the  Delian  lake — obey. 
Or  streaming  blood  shall  interrupt  thy  song. 
But  what  fresh  bird  approaches .''    Would  she  build 
Under  these  pinnacles  a  nest  to  hold 
Her  callow  brood .''     Soon  shall  the  whizzing  shaft 
Repel  thee.     Wilt  thou  not  comply  ?    Where  Alpheus 
Winds  through  the  channeled  rocks  his  passage,  go. 
And  rear  thy  twittering  progeny,  or  dwell 
Amid  the  Isthmian  groves,  that  Piioebus'  gifts 
And  temples  no  defilement  may  receive. 
For  I  am  loth  to  take  away  your  lives, 
Ye  winged  messengers,  who  to  mankind 
Announce  the  vvill  of  the  celestial  powers. 
But  I  on  Phoebus  must  attend,  performing 
The  task  assigned  me  with  unwearied  zeal, 
And  minister  to  those  who  give  me  food. 

Chorus,  Ion. 

Chor.  'Tis  not  in  Athens  only  that  the  fane 
Where  duteous  homage  to  the  gods  is  paid, 
Or  altar  for  Agyian  Phoebus  reared 
With  many  a  stately  column  is  adorned  ; 
But  in  these  mansions  of  Latona's  son 
From  those  twin  deities  portrayed  there  beams 
An  equal  splendour  on  the  dazzled  sight. 

1st  Semichor.  See  there  Jove's   son  who  with   his 
golden  falchion 

ION.  53 

Slays  the  Leruasan  Hydra  !  O  my  friend, 
Observe  him  well. 

2nd  Semichor.     I  do. 

1st  Semichor.  Another  stands 

Beside  him  brandishing  a  kindled  toich. 

2nd  Semichor.  He  whose  exploits  I  on  my  woof  described  ? 

1st  Semichor.  The  noble  lolaus,  who  sustained 
Alcides'  shield,  and  in  those  glorious  toils 
Was  the  sole  partner  with  the  son  of  Jove. 
Him  also  mark  who  on  a  winged  steed 
Is  seated,  how  with  forceful  arm  he  smites 
The  triple-formed  Chimaera  breathing  fire. 

2nd  Semichor.  With  thee  these  eyes  retrace  each  varied 

1st  Semichor.  Look  at  the  giants'  conflict  with  the  gods 
Depictured  on  the  wall. 

2nd  Semichor.  There,  there,  my  friends. 

1st  Seiniichor.  Behold'st  thou  her  who  'gainst  Enceladus 
The  dreadful  ^gis  brandishes  ? 

2nd  Semichor.  I  see 

Pallas,  my  goddess. 

1st  Semichor.        And  the  forkM  flames, 
With  which  th'  impetuous  thunderbolt  descends, 
Hurled  from  the  skies  by  Jove's  unerring  arm  ? 

2nd  Semichor.  I  see,  I  see  !     Its  livid  flashes  smite 
Mimas  the  foe,  and  with  his  pliant  thyrsus 
Another  earth-born  monster  Bacchus  slays. 

Chor.  On  thee  I  call,  O  thou  who  in  this  fane 
Art  stationed  :  is  it  lawful  to  advance 
Into  the  inmost  sanctuary's  recess 
With  our  feet  bare  ? 

Ion.  This  cannot  be  allowed. 

Ye  foreign  dames. 

Chor.  Wilt  thou  not  answer  me  ? 

Ion.  What  information  wish  ye  to  receive  ? 

Chor.  Say,  is  it  true  that  Phoebus'  temple  stands 
On  the  world's  centre  ? 

Ion.  'Tis  with  garlands  decked, 

And  Gorgons  are  placed  round  it. 

Chor.  So  fame  tells. 


Ion.  If  ye  before  these  portals  have  with  fire 
Consumed  the  salted  cates,  and  wish  to  know 
Aught  from  Apollo,  to  this  altar  come ; 
But  enter  not  the  temple's  dread  recess 
Till  sheep  are  sacrificed. 

Chor.  I  comprehend  thee; 

Nor  will  we  break  the  god's  established  laws. 
But  with  the  pictures  which  are  here  without 
Amuse  our  eyes. 

Ion,  Ye  may  survey  them  all 

At  leisure. 

Chor.       Hither  have  our  rulers  sent  us, 
The  sanctuary  of  Phoebus  to  behold. 

Ion.  Inform  me  to  what  household  ye  belong. 

Chor.  Minerva's  city  is  the  place  where  dwell 
Our  sovereigns.     But  lo  !  she  herself  appears 
To  whom  the  questions  thou  hast  asked  relate. 

Creusa,  Ion,  Chorus. 

Ion.  Thy  countenance,  whoe'er  thou  be,  O  woman, 
Proves  thou  art  noble,  and  of  gentle  manners  : 
For  by  their  looks  we  fail  not  to  discern 
Those  of  exalted  birth.     But  with  amazement. 
Closing  those  eyes,  thou  strik'st  me,  and  with  tears 
Largely  bedewing  those  ingenuous  cheeks, 
Since  thou  hast  seen  Apollo's  holy  fane. 
Whence  can  such  wayward  grief  arise  .''    The  sight 
Of  this  auspicious  sanctuary,  which  gives 
Delight  to  others,  causes  thee  to  weep. 

Cre.  Stranger,  you  well  may  wonder  at  my  tears, 
For  since  I  viewed  these  mansions  of  the  god, 
I  have  been  thinking  of  a  past  event ; 
And  thou^^h  myself  indeed  am  here,  my  soul 
Remains  at  home.     O  ye  unhappy  dames  ! 
O  most  audacious  outrages  committed 
By  the  immortal  gods  !     To  whom  for  justice 
Can  we  appeal,  if,  through  the  wrongs  of  those 
Who  rule  the  world  with  a  despotic  power, 
We  ptrish  ? 

ION.  55 

Ion.  What  affliction  unrevealed 

Makes  thee  despond  ? 

Cre.  None.     I  have  dropped  the  subject. 

What  follows  I  suppress,  nor  must  you  seek 
I'o  learn  aught  farther. 

Ion.  But  say,  who  thou  art. 

Whence  cam'st  thou,  in  what  region  weit  thou  born, 
And  by  what  name  must  we  distinguish  thee  ? 

Cre.  Creusa  is  my  name,  my  sire  Erectheus, 
In  Athens  first  I  drew  my  vital  breath. 

Ion.  O  thou  in  that  famed  city  who  resid'st, 
And  by  illustrious  parents  hast  been  nurtured, 
How  much  do  I  revere  thee  ! 

Cre.  I  thus  far, 

But  in  nought  else,  am  blest. 

Ion.  I  by  the  gods 

Conjure  thee,  answer,  if  the  world  speak  truth. 

Cre.  What  question's  this  you  would  propose,  O  stranger? 
I  wish  to  learn. 

Ion.  Sprang  the  progenitor 

Of  thy  great  father  from  the  teeming  earth  ? 

Cre.  Thence  Ericthonius  ;  but  my  noble  race 
Avails  me  not. 

Ion.  And  did  Minerva  rear 

The  warrior  from  the  ground  ? 

Cre.  With  virgin  arms, 

For  she  was  not  his  mother. 

Ion.  Of  the  child 

Disposing  as  in  pictures  'tis  described  ? 

Cre.  To  Cecrops'  daughters  him  she  gave  for  nurture. 
With  strict  injunctions  never  to  behold  him. 

Ion.  I  hear  those  virgins  oped  the  wicker  chest 
In  which  the  goddess  lodged  him. 

Cre.  Hence  their  doom 

Was  death,  and  with  their  gore  they  stained  the  rock. 

Ion.  Let  that  too  pass.     But  is  this  rumour  true, 
Or  groundless  ? 

Cre.  What's  your  question  ?  for  with  leisure 

I  am  not  overburdened. 


Ion.  Did  Erectheus, 

Thy  royal  father,  sacrifice  thy  sisters  ? 

Cre.  He  feared  not  in  his  country's  cause  to  slay 
Those  virgins. 

Ion.  By  what  means  didst  thou  alone 

Of  all  thy  sisters  'scape  ? 

Cre.  a  new-born  infant, 

I  still  was  in  my  mother's  arms. 

Ion.  Did  earth 

Indeed  expand  her  jaws,  and  swallow  up 
Thy  father  ? 

'     Cre.  Neptune  with  his  trident  smote 

And  slew  him. 

Ion.  Is  the  spot  on  which  he  died 

Called  Macra? 

Cre.  For  what  reason  do  you  ask 

This  question  ?    To  my  memory  what  a  scene 
Have  you  recalled ! 

Ion.  Doth  not  the  Pythian  god 

Revere,  and  with  his  radiant  beams  adorn 
That  blest  abode  ? 

Cre.  Revere  !     But  what  have  I 

To  do  with  that .''    Ah,  would  to  heaven  I  ne'er 
Had  seen  the  place  ! 

Ion.  What  then  !     Dost  thou  abhor 

What  Phoebus  holds  most  dear  ? 

Cre.  Not  thus,  O  stranger  ; 

Though  I  know  somewhat  base  that  has  been  done 
Under  those  caverns. 

Ion.  What  Athenian  lord 

Received  thy  plighted  hand .'' 

Cre.  No  citizen 

Of  Athens  ;  but  a  sojourner,  who  can>e 
Out  of  another  country. 

Ion.  Who?    He  sure 

Was  of  some  noble  lineage  ? 

Cre.  Xuthus,  son 

Of  itolus,  who  sprung  from  Jove. 

Ion.  How  gained 

This  foreigner  the  hand  of  thee,  a  native.' 

ION.  57 

Cre.  Euboea  is  a  region  on  the  confines 
Of  Athens. 

Ion.  With  the  briny  deep  between, 

As  fame  relates. 

Cre.  Those  bulwarks  he  laid  waste, 

With  Cecrops'  race  a  comrade  in  the  war. 

Ion.  He  thither  came  perhaps  as  an  ally, 
And  afterwards  obtained  thee  for  his  bride. 

Cre.  In  me  the  dower  of  battle,  and  the  prize 
Of  his  victorious  spear,  did  he  receive. 

Ion.  Alone,  or  with  thy  husband,  art  thou  come 
These  oracles  to  visit  ? 

Cre.  With  my  lord  : 

But  to  Trophonius'  cavern  he  is  gone. 

Ion.  As  a  spectator  only,  or  t'  explore 
The  mystic  will  of  Fate  ? 

Cre.  He  hopes  to  gain 

From  him  and  from  Apollo  one  response. 

Ion.  Seek  ye  the  general  fruit  earth's  bosom  yields, 
Or  children  ? 

Cre.  We  are  childless,  though  full  long 

Have  we  been  wedded. 

Ion.  Hast  thou  never  known 

The  pregnant  mother's  throes .''    Art  thou  then  barren  ? 

Cre.  Phoebus  well  knows  I  am  without  a  son 

Ion.  O  wretched  woman,  who  in  all  beside 
Art  prosperous  :  Fortune  here,  alas,  deserts  thee. 

Cre.  But  who  are  you?     How  happy  do  I  deem 
Your  mother  ! 

Ion.  An  attendant  on  the  god 

They  call  me  ;  and,  O  woman,  such  I  am. 

Cre.  Sent  from  your  city  as  a  votive  gift. 
Or  by  some  master  sold .'' 

Ion.  I  know  this  only, 

That  I  am  called  Apollo's. 

Cre,  In  return, 

I  too,  O  stranger,  pity  your  hard  fate. 

Ion.  Because  I  know  not  either  of  my  parents. 

Cre.  Beneath  this  faae  or  some  more  lowly  dome 
Reside  you  ? 


Ion.  This  whole  temple  of  the  god 

Is  my  abode,  here  sleep  I. 

Cre.  While  an  infant, 

Or  since  you  were  a  stripling,  came  you  hither? 

Ion.  The  persons  who  appear  to  know  the  truth 
Assert  I  was  a  child. 

Cre.  What  Delphic  nurse 

Performed  a  mother's  office  ? 

Ion.  I  ne'er  clung 

To  any  breast — she  reared  me. 

Cre.  Hapless  youth. 

Who  reared  you  1    How  have  I  discovered  woes 
Which  equal  those  I  suffer ! 

Ion.  Phcebus'  priestess, 

Whom  :is  my  real  mother  I  esteem. 

Cre.  But  how  were  you  supported  till  you  reached 
Maturer  years  ? 

Ion.  I  at  the  altar  fed, 

And  on  the  bounty  of  each  casual  guest. 

Cre.  Whoe'er  she  was,  your  mother  sure  was  wretched. 

Ion.  Perhaps  to  me  some  woman  owes  her  shame. 

Cre.  But  say,  what  wealth  you  have  ?    For  you  are  drest 
In  a  becoming  garb. 

Ion.  I  am  adorned 

With  these  rich  vestments  by  the  god  I  serve. 

Cre.  Did  you  make  no  researches  to  discover 
Your  parents  ? 

Ion.  I  have  not  the  slightest  clue 

To  guide  my  steps. 

Cre.  Alas,  another  dame 

Like  sufferings  with  your  mother  hath  endured. 

Ion.  Who  ?     Tell  me.     Thy  assist^.nce  wouldst  thou  give, 
I  should  rejoice  indeed. 

Cre.  She  for  whose  sake 

I  hither  came  before  my  lord  arrive. 

Ion.  What  are  thy  wishes  in  which  I  can  serve  thee  ? 

Cre.  I  would  obtain  an  oracle  from  Phoebus 
In  private. 

Ion.  Name  it :  for  of  all  beside 

Will  I  take  charge. 

ION.  59 

Cre.  Now  to  my  words  attend — 

Yet  shame  restrains  me. 

Ion.  Then  wilt  thou  do  nothing  : 

For  Shame's  a  goddess  not  for  action  formed. 

Cre.  One  of  my  friends  informs  me  that  by  Phoebus 
She  was  embraced. 

Ion.  a  woman  by  Apollo  ! 

Use  not  such  language,  0  thou  foreign  dame. 

Cre.  And  that  without  the  knowledge  of  her  sire, 
She  bore  the  god  a  son. 

Ion.  This  cannot  be  ; 

Her  modesty  forbids  her  to  confess 
What  mortal  wronged  her. 

Cre.  No  ;  she  suffered  all 

That  she  complains  of,  though  her  tale  be  wretched. 

Ion.  In  what  respect,  if  by  the  bonds  of  love 
She  to  the  god  was  joined  ? 

Cre.  The  son  she  bore 

She  also  did  cast  forth. 

Ion.  Where  is  the  boy 

Who  was  cast  forth,  doth  he  behold  the  light  ? 

Cre.  None  knows  ;  and  for  this  cause  would  I  consult 
The  oracle. 

Ion.  But  if  he  be  no  more, 

How  died  he  ? 

Cre.  Much  she  fears  the  beasts  devoured 

Her  wretched  child. 

Ion.  What  proof  hath  she  of  this  ? 

Cre.  She  came  where  slie  exposed,  and  found  him 

Ion.  Did  any  drops  of  blood  distain  the  path  ? 

Cre.  None,  as  she  says  ;  although  full  long  she  searched 
Around  the  field. 

Ion.  But  since  that  hapless  boy 

Perished,  how  long  is  it  ? 

Cre.  Were  he  yet  living. 

His  age  would  be  the  same  with  yours. 

Ion.  Tlie  god 

Hath  wronged  her,  yet  the  mother  must  be  wretched. 

Cre.  Since  that  hath  she  produced  no  other  child. 


Ion.  But  what  if  Phoebus  bore  away  by  stealth 
His  son,  and  nurtured  him  ? 

Cre.  He  acts  unjustly, 

Alone  enjoying  what  to  both  belongs. 

Ion.  Ah  me  !     Such  fortune  bears  a  close  resemblance 
To  my  calamity. 

Cre.  I  make  no  doubt, 

O  stranger,  but  your  miserable  mother 
Wishes  for  you. 

Ion.  Revive  not  piteous  thoughts 

By  me  forgotten. 

Cre.  I  my  question  cease  ; 

Now  finish  your  reply. 

Ion.  Art  ihou  aware 

In  what  respect  thou  hast  unwisely  spoken  ? 

Cre.  Can  aught  but  grief  attend  that  wretched  dame  ? 

Ion.  How  is  it  probable  the  god  should  publish. 
By  an  oracular  response,  the  fact 
He  wishes  to  conceal .'' 

Cre.  If  here  he  sit 

Upon  his  public  tripod  to  which  Greece 
Hath  free  access. 

Ion.  He  blushes  at  the  deed  ; 

Of  him  make  no  inquiries. 

Cre.  The  poor  sufferer 

Bewails  her  fortunes. 

Ion.  No  presumptuous  seer 

To  thee  this  mystery  will  disclose :  for  Phcebus, 
In  his  own  temple  with  such  baseness  charged. 
Justly  would  punish  him  who  should  expound 
To  thee  the  oracle.     Depart,  O  woman  ; 
For  of  th'  immortal  powers  we  must  not  speak 
With  disrespect.     This  were  the  utmost  pitch 
Of  frenzy  should  we  labour  to  extort 
From  the  unwilling  gods  those  hidden  truths 
They  mean  not  to  disclose,  by  slaughtered  sheep, 
Before  their  altars,  or  the  flight  of  birds. 
If  'gainst  Heaven's  will  we  strive  to  reach  down  blessings, 
In  our  possession  they  become  a  curse  : 

ION.  6i 

But  what  the  gods  spontaneously  confer 
Is  beneficial. 

Chor.  In  a  thousand  forms, 

A  thousand  various  woes  o'erwhelm  mankind  : 
But  life  can  scarce  afford  one  happy  scene. 

Cre.  Elsewhere  as  well  as  here  art  thou  unjust 
To  her,  O  Phoebus,  who  though  absent  speaks 
By  me.     For  thou  hast  not  preserved  thy  son 
Whom  thou  wert  bound  to  save  ;  nor  wilt  thou  answer 
His  mother's  questions,  prophet  as  thou  art  : 
That,  if  he  be  no  more,  there  may  a  tomb 
For  him  be  heaped,  or  haply,  if  he  live, 
She  may  at  length  behold  her  dearest  child. 
But  now  no  more  of  this,  if  me  the  god 
Forbid  to  ask  what  most  I  wish  to  know. 
Conceal,  O  gentle  stranger  (for  I  see 
My  lord  the  noble  Xuthus  is  at  hand, 
Who  from  the  cavern  of  Trophonius  comes), 
What  thou  hast  heard,  lest  I  incur  reproach 
For  thus  divulging  secrets,  and  my  words, 
Not  as  I  spoke  them,  should  be  blazed  abroad  : 
For  the  condition  of  our  sex  is  hard, 
Subject  to  man's  caprice ;  and  virtuous  dames, 
From  being  mingled  with  the  bad,  are  hated. 
Such,  such  is  woman's  miserable  doom. 

Xuthus,  Creusa,  Ion,  Chorus. 

XUT.   I  to  the  god  begin  t'  r.ddress  myself: 
Him  first  I  hail ;  and  yoa  my  consort  next. 
Hath  my  long  stay  alarmed  you  .'' 

Cre.  No  ;  thou  com'st 

To  her  who  is  opprest  with  anxious  thoughts. 
Say  from  Trophonius  what  response  thou  bring'st  ; 
Doth  hope  of  issue  wait  us  ! 

XUT.  He  refused 

T'  anticipate  the  prophecies  of  Phoebus  ; 
All  that  he  said  was  this  :  nor  I,  nor  thou. 
Shall  from  this  temple  to  our  home  return 
Thus  destitute  of  children. 


Cre.  Holy  mother 

Of  PhcEbus,  to  our  journey  grant  success  ; 
And  O  may  fortune  yet  have  bliss  in  store 
T'or  those  on  whom  thy  son  erst  deigned  to  smile. 

XUT.  Thy  vows  shall  be  nccomplished :  but  what  prophet 
Officiates  in  this  temple  of  the  god  ? 

Ion.  I  here  without  am  stationed  ;  but  within, 

0  stranger,  others  near  the  tripod  take 
Their  seat,  from  Delphi's  noblest  citizens 
Chosen  by  lot. 

XUT.  'Tis  well :  I  have  attained 

The  utmost  of  my  wishes,  and  will  enter 
The  sanctuary,  for  here  before  the  temple, 

1  am  informed,  tiie  oracles  in  public 
To  foreigners  are  uttered  ;  on  this  day 
(For  'tis  a  solemn  feast)  we  mean  to  hear 
The  god's  prophetic  voice.     O  woman,  take 
Branches  of  laurel,  and  at  every  altar 
Offer  up  vows  to  the  immortal  powers, 
That  I  from  Phoebus'  temple  may  procure 
This  answer,  that  my  wishes  shall  be  crowned 
With  an  auspicious  progeny. 

Cre.  Depend 

On  their  completion :  but  were  Phoebus'  self 
Disposed  to  make  atonement  for  past  wrongs, 
He  now,  alas  !  no  longer  can  to  me 
Entirely  be  a  friend  :  yet  I  from  him 
Whate'er  he  pleases  am  constrained  to  take, 
Because  he  is  a  god.  {Exeunt  XuTHUS  and  Creusa. 

Ion.  In  mystic  words. 

Why  doth  this  foreign  dame,  against  our  god 
Still  glance  reproaches,  through  a  strong  attachment 
To  her  for  whom  she  hither  to  consult 
The  oracle  is  come ;  or  doth  she  hide 
Some  circumstance  unfit  to  be  disclosed  ? 
But  with  Erectheus'  daughter  what  concern 
Have  I,  what  interest  in  th'  Athenian  realm  ? 
ni  go  and  sprinkle  from  the  golden  vase 
The  lustral  waters.     Yet  must  I  condemn 

ION.  63 

Phcebus  :  what  means  he  ?    To  the  ravished  maid 

Unfaithful  hath  he  proved  :  his  son,  by  stealth 

Begotten,  left  neglected  to  expire. 

Act  thou  not  thus  ;  but  since  thou  art  supreme 

In  majesty,  let  virtue  too  be  thine. 

For  whosoever  of  the  human  race 

Transgresses,  with  severity  tlie  gods 

Punish  his  crimes  :  then  how  can  it  be  just 

For  you,  whose  written  laws  mankind  obey, 

Yourselves  to  break  them  ?     Though  'twill  never  be. 

This  supposition  will  I  make,  that  thou, 

Neptune,  and  Jove,  who  in  the  heaven  bears  rule, 

Should  make  atonement  to  mankind  for  those 

Whom  ye  have  forcibly  deflow'red  ;  your  temples 

Must  ye  exhaust  to  pay  the  fines  imposed 

On  your  base  deeds  :  for  when  ye  follow  pleasure, 

Heedless  of  decency,  ye  act  amiss  ; 

No  longer  is  it  just  to  speak  of  men 

As  wicked,  if  the  conduct  of  the  gods 

We  imitate  :  our  censures  rather  ought 

To  fall  on  those  who  such  examples  give.  [Exil  lON. 




0  thou  who  aid'st  tlie  matron's  throes, 
Come  Eilithya,  for  to  thee  I  sue; 
Minerva  next  with  honours  due 

1  hail,  who  by  Prometheus'  aid  arose 

In  arms  refulgent  from  the  front  of  Jove, 
Nor  knew  a  mother's  fostering  love  ; 

Victorious  queen,  armed  with  resistless  might, 
O'er  Pythian  fanes  thy  plumage  spread, 

Forsake  awhile  Olympus'  golden  bed, 
O  wing  thy  rapid  ilight 
To  this  blest  land  where  Phcebus  reigns. 

This  centre  of  the  world  his  chosen  seat, 

Where  from  his  tripod  in  harmonious  strains 

Doth  he  th'  unerring  prophecy  repeat : 


With  Latona's  daughter  join, 
For  thou  Hke  her  art  spotless  and  divine ; 
Sisters  of  Phoebus,  with  persuasive  grace, 

Ye  virgins  sue,  nor  sue  in  vain. 
That,  from  his  oracles,  Erectheus'  race 
To  the  Athenian  throne  a  noble  heir  may  gain. 

Object  of  Heaven's  peculiar  care 
Is  he  whose  children,  vigorous  from  their  birth, 

Nursed  on  the  foodful  lap  of  earth, 
Adorn  his  mansion  and  his  transports  share : 
No  patrimonial  treasures  can  exceed 

Theirs  who  by  each  heroic  deed 
Augment  the  fame  of  an  illustrious  sire. 

And  to  their  children's  children  leave 
Th'  invaluable  heritnge  entire. 
In  troubles  we  receive 

From  duteous  sons  a  timely  aid, 
And  social  pleasure  in  our  prosperous  hours. 
The  daring  youth,  in  brazen  arms  arrayed 
Guards  with  protended  lance  his  native  towers. 

To  lure  these  eyes,  though  gold  were  spread, 
Though  Hymen  wantoned  on  a  legal  bed, 
Such  virtuous  offsprinLj  would  my  soul  prefer. 

The  lonely  childless  life  I  hate, 
And  deem  that  they  wlio  choose  it  greatly  err, 
Blest  with  a  teeming  couch,  I  ask  no  kingly  stale. 

Ye  shadowy  groves  where  sportive  Pan  is  seen, 
Stupendous  rocks  whose  pine-clad  summits  wave, 

Where  oft  near  Macra's  darksome  cave. 
Light  spectres,  o'er  the  consecrated  green, 

Agraulos'  daughters  lead  the  dance 
Before  the  portals  of  Minerva's  fane 

To  the  shrill  flute's  varied  strain. 
When  from  thy  caverns,  through  the  vale  around, 

O  Pan,  the  cheering  notes  resound. 
Under  those  hanging  cliffs  (abhorred  mischance  I 

ION.  65 

Some  nymph  a  son  to  Phoebus  bore, 
Whom  she  to  ravenous  birds  a  bloody  feast 

Exposed,  and  to  each  savage  beast ; 

Her  shame,  her  conscious  guilt,  deplore. 
Nor  at  my  loom,  nor  by  the  voice  of  Fame 

Have  I  e'er  heard  it  said, 
The  base-born  issue  of  some  human  maid, 
Begotten  by  a  god,  to  bliss  have  any  claim. 

Ion,  Chorus. 

Ion.  O  ye  attendants  on  your  noble  mistress, 
Who  watch  around  the  basis  of  this  fane, 
Say,  whether  Xuthus  have  already  left 
The  tripod  and  oracular  recess. 
Or  in  the  temple  doth  he  stay  to  ask 
More  questions  yet  about  his  childless  state  ? 

Chor.  He  is  within,  nor  yet  hath  passed  the  threshold 
Of  these  abodes,  O  stranger :  but  we  hear 
The  sounding  hinges  of  yon  gates  announce 
His  coming  forth  :  and  see,  my  lord  advances  ! 

XuTHUs,  Ion,  Chorus. 

XUT.  On  thee,  my  son,  may  every  bliss  attend  : 
For  such  an  introduction  suits  my  speech. 

Ion.  With  me  all's  well  :  but  learn  to  think  aright, 
And  we  shall  both  be  happy. 

XuT.  Give  thy  hand. 

And  suffer  me  t'  embrace  thee. 

Ion.  Are  your  senses 

Yet  unimpaired,  or  hath  the  secret  curse 
Some  god  inflicts,  O  stranger,  made  you  frantic  ? 

XUT.  In  my  right  mind  am  I,  if  having  found 
Him  whom  I  hold  most  dear,  I  wish  t'  embrace  him. 

Ion.  Desist,  nor  touch  me,  lest  your  rude  hand  tear 
The  garlands  of  the  god. 

Xur.  Now  in  these  arms 

Thee  I  have  caught,  no  pledge  will  I  receive ; 
For  I've  discovered  my  beloved  son. 

Ion.  Wilt  thou  not  leave  me,  ere  these  shafts  transpierce 
Your  vitals  ? 



Xux.  But  why  shun  me,  now  thou  know'st 

That  I  to  thee  by  such  strong  ties  am  bound  ? 

Ion.  Because  to  me  it  is  no  welcome  office 
Foolish  and  frantic  strangers  to  recall 
To  their  right  reason. 

XUT.  Take  my  life  away, 

And  burn  my  corse ;  but  if  thou  kill  me,  thou 
Wilt  be  thy  father's  murderer. 

Ion.  How  are  you 

My  father  1     Is  not  this  ridiculous  ? 

XUT.  In  a  few  words  to  thee  would  I  explain 
Our  near  connection. 

Ion.  What  have  }  ou  to  say  ? 

XUT.  I  am  thy  sire,  and  thou  art  my  own  son. 

Ion.  Who  told  you  this .? 

XUT.  Apollo,  by  whose  care 

Thou,  O  my  son,  wert  nurtured  in  this  fane. 

Ion.  You  for  yourself  bear  witness. 

XUT.  Having  searched 

The  oracles  of  this  unerring  god — 

Ion.  Some  phrase  of  dubious  import  have  you  heard. 
Which  hath  misled  you. 

XUT.  Heard  I  not  aright  ? 

Ion.  What  said  Apollo  ? 

XuT.  That  the  man  who  meets  me — 

Ion.  Where? 

XUT.  As  I  from  the  temple  of  the  god 

Am  going  forth. 

Ion.  What  fortunes  him  await  ? 

XuT.  Those  of  my  son. 

Ion.  By  birth  or  through  adoption  ? 

XuT.  A  gift  and  my  own  child. 

Ion.  Am  I  the  first 

You  light  on  ? 

XuT.  I  have  met  none  else,  my  son. 

Ion.  Whence  springs  this  strange  vicissitude  of  fortune  .-' 

XUT.  The  same  event  with  wonder  strikes  us  both. 

Ion.  To  you,  what  mother  bore  me  .-* 

XUT.  This  I  know  not. 

ION.  67 

Ion.  Did  not  Apollo  say? 

XUT.  I  was  delighted 

With  what  he  had  revealed,  and  searched  no  farther. 

Ion.  From  mother  earth  I  surely  sprung. 

XuT.  The  ground 

Brings  forth  no  children. 

Ion.  How  can  I  be  yours? 

Xur.  I  know  not;  but  refer  thee  to  the  god. 

Ion.  Some  other  subject  let  us  now  begin. 

XUT.  This  is  a  topic,  O  my  son,  to  me 
Most  interesting. 

Ion.  The  joys  of  lawless  love 

Have  you  experienced? 

XUT.  Yes,  through  youthful  folly. 

Ion.  Ere  you  were  wedded  to  Erectheus'  daughter  ? 

XUT.  Not  ever  since. 

Ion.  Did  you  beget  me  then  ? 

XuT.  The  time  just  tallies. 

Ion.  But  how  came  I  hither? 

XUT.  This  quite  perplexes. 

Ion.  From  a  distant  land  ? 

XUT.  In  this  I  also  find  new  cause  for  doubt. 

Ion.  Did  you  ascend  erewhile  the  Pythian  rock? 

XUT.  To  celebrate  the  festivals  of  Bacchus. 

Ion.  But  to  what  host  did  you  repair  ? 

XuT.  The  same 

Who  me  with  Delphic  maids — 

Ion.  Initiated? 

Or  what  is  it  you  mean  ? 

Xtjt.  The  Maenades 

Of  Bromius  too. 

Ion.  While  sober,  or  o'erpowered 

By  wine  ? 

XUT.        The  joys  of  Bacchus  had  ensnared  me. 

Ion.  Hence  it  appears  I  was  begotten  then. 

XUT.  Fate  hath  at  len<^th  discovered  thee,  my  son. 

Ion.  But  to  this  fane  how  could  I  come  ? 

XuT.  The  nymph 

Perhaps  exposed  thee. 



Ion.  I  from  servitude 

Have  made  a  blest  escape. 

XUT.  Now,  O  my  son, 

Embrace  thy  sire. 

Ion.  I  ought  not  to  distrust 

The  god. 

XUT.        Thou  thinWst  aright. 

Ion.  And  is  there  aught 

That  I  can  wish  for  more — 

XuT.  Thou  now  behold'st 

As  much  as  it  concerns  thee  to  behold. 

Ion.  Than  from  Jove's  son  to  spring? 

XUT.  Which  is  thy  lot. 

Ion.  May  I  embrace  the  author  of  my  birth  ? 

XuT.  To  the  god  yielding  credence. 

Ion.  Hail,  my  father. 

XUT.  With  ecstasy  that  title  I  receive. 

Ion.  This  day— 

XuT.  Hath  made  me  happy. 

Ion.  My  dear  mother, 

Shall  I  e'er  see  thee  ?    More  than  ever  now 
(Be  who  thou  wilt)  I  for  that  moment  long. 
But  thou  perhaps  art  dead,  and  I  for  thee 
Can  now  do  nothing. 

Chor.  With  our  monarch's  house 

We  share  the  glad  event :  yet  could  I  wish 
My  royal  mistress  and  Erectheus'  race 
With  children  had  been  blest. 

XuT.  The  god,  my  son, 

In  thy  discovery  hath  done  well ;  to  him 
I  owe  this  happy  union.    Thou  too  find'st 
A  father,  though  thou  never  knew'st  till  now 
By  whom  thou  wert  begotten  :  with  thy  wishes 
Mine,  O  my  son,  conspire,  that  thou  mayst  find 
Thy  mother,  and  that  I  may  learn  who  bore  thee. 
By  leaving  this  to  time,  we  may  at  length 
Perhaps  discover  her :  but  now  forsaking 
Apollo's  temple  and  this  exiled  state, 
With  duteous  zeal  accompany  thy  sire 

ION.  69 

To  Athens,  where  this  heritage  awaits  thee, 

A  prosperous  sceptre  and  abundant  wealth  : 

Nor  though  thou  want  one  parent,  can  the  name, 

Or  of  ignoble,  or  of  poor  be  thine  : 

But  for  thy  noble  birth  shalt  thou  be  famed. 

And  thy  abundant  treasures.     Art  thou  silent  ? 

Why  dost  thou  fix  thine  eyes  upon  the  ground  ? 

Thy  anxious  thoughts  return,  and  thou,  thus  changed 

From  thy  past  cheerfulness,  alarm'st  my  soul. 

Ion.  Things  at  a  distance  wear  not  the  same  semblance 
As  when  on  them  we  fix  a  closer  view. 
I  certainly  with  gratitude  embrace 
My  better  fortunes,  having  found  in  you 
A  father.     But  whence  rose  my  anxious  thoughts 
Now  hear  :  in  Athens,  I  am  told,  a  native 
Is  deemed  a  glorious  name,  not  so  the  race 
Of  aliens.     I  its  gates  shall  enter  laden 
With  these  two  evils  ;  from  a  foreign  sire 
Descended,  and  myself  a  spurious  child. 
Branded  with  this  reproach,  doomed  to  continue 
In  base  obscurity,  I  shall  be  called 
A  man  of  no  account :  but  if  intruding 
Into  the  highest  stations  in  the  city, 
I  aim  at  being  great,  I  shall  incur 
Hate  from  the  vulgar,  for  superior  power 
Is  to  the  people  odious  ;  but  the  friends 
Of  virtue,  they  whose  elevated  souls 
With  real  wisdom  are  endued,  observe 
A  modest  silence,  nor  with  eager  haste 
Rush  into  public  business  ;  such  as  these 
Will  laugh  and  brand  me  with  an  idiot's  name,  y 

For  not  remaining  quiet  in  a  land 
Which  with  tumultuous  outrages  abounds. 
Again,  will  those  of  a  distinguished  rani: 
Who  at  the  helm  preside,  when  I  attempt 
To  raise  myself  to  honours,  be  most  wary 
How  on  an  alien  they  their  votes  confer. 
For  thus,  my  sire,  'tis  ever  wont  to  be  ; 
They  who  possess  authority  and  rank 


Loathe  their  competitors.     But  when  I  come, 

Unwelcome  stranger,  to  a  foreign  house 

And  to  the  childless  matron — partner  once 

In  your  calamity,  of  all  her  hopes 

Now  reft — with  bitter  anguish  will  she  feel 

In  private  this  misfortune  :  by  what  means 

Can  I  escape  her  hatred,  at  your  footstool 

When  I  am  seated,  hxat  she,  still  remaining 

A  childless  consort,  with  malignant  eyes 

The  object  of  your  tenderness  beholds  ? 

Then  or,  betraying  me,  will  you  regard 

Your  wife  :  or  by  th'  esteem  for  me  exprest, 

A  dire  confusion  in  your  palace  cause. 

For  men,  by  female  subtlety,  how  oft 

Have  poisons  been  invented  to  destroy ; 

Yet  is  my  pity  to  your  consort  due. 

Childless  and  hastening  to  the  vale  of  years  ; 

Sprung  from  heroic  sires  she  ill  deserves 

To  pine  through  want  of  issue.     But  the  face 

Of  empire  whom  we  foolishly  commend 

Is  fair  indeed,  though  in  her  mansions  Grief 

Hath  fixed  her  loathed  abode.     For  who  is  happy, 

Who  fortunate,  when  his  whole  life  is  spent 

In  circumspection  and  in  anxious  fears  ? 

Rather  would  I  in  an  ignoble  state 

Live  blest,  than  be  a  monarch  who  delights 

In  evil  friends,  and  hates  the  good,  still  fearing 

The  stroke  of  deaih.     Perhaps  you  will  reply 

That  gold  can  all  these  obstacles  surmount, 

And  to  grow  rich  is  sweet.     I  would  not  hear 

Tumultuous  sounds,  or  grievous  toils  endure. 

Because  these  hands  my  treasures  still  retain. 

May  I  possess  an  humbler  rank  exempt 

From  sorrow  !     O  my  sire,  let  me  describe 

The  blessings  I  have  here  enjoyed  ;  first  ease, 

To  man  most  grateful ;  by  the  busy  crowd 

I  seldom  was  molested,  from  my  path 

No  villain  drove  me  :  not  to  be  endured 

Is  this,  when  we  to  base  competitors 

ION.  Ji 

Are  forced  to  yield  pre-eminence.     I  prayed 
Fervently  to  the  gods,  or  ministered 
To  mortals,  and  with  those  who  did  rejoice 
I  never  grieved.     Some  strangers  I  dismissed. 
But  others  came.     Hence  a  new  object  still 
Did  I  rernain,  and  each  new  votary  please. 
What  men  are  bound  to  wish  for,  even  they 
Wlio  with  reluctance  practise  what  they  ought, 
The  laws  conspired  to  aid  my  natural  bent, 
And  in  the  sight  of  Phoebus  made  me  just. 
These  things  maturely  weighing  in  my  breast, 
I  deem  my  situation  here  exceeds 
What  Athens  can  bestow.     Allow  me  then 
The  privilege  of  living  to  myself : 
For  'tis  an  equal  blessing,  or  to  taste 
The  splendid  gifts  of  fortune  with  delight. 
Or  in  an  humbler  station  rest  content. 

Chor.  Well  hast  thou  spoken  :  could  thy  words  conduce 
To  the  felicity  of  those  I  love  ! 

XuT.  Cease  to  speak  thus,  and  learn  how  to  be  happy : 
For  on  the  spot  where  thee  I  found,  my  son, 
Will  I  perform  due  rites,  the  social  board 
Crown  with  a  public  banquet,  and  slay  victims 
In  celebration  of  thy  natal  day. 
Which  with  no  sacrifice  hath  yet  been  graced. 
But  now  conducting  thee,  as  if  a  guest 
Entered  my  doors,  thee  with  a  splendid  feast 
Will  I  regale,  and  to  th'  Athenian  realm 
Lead  thee  as  one  who  comes  to  view  the  land. 
Not  as  my  son;  because  I  would  not  grieve 
My  consort,  who  is  childless,  while  myself 
In  thee  am  blest :  yet  will  I  seize  at  length 
Some  happy  moment,  and  on  her  prevail 
To  let  thee  wield  my  sceptre.     By  the  name 
Of  Ion,  I  accost  thee,  which  best  suits 
Th'  event  that  happened,  since,  as  I  came  forth 
From  Phoebus'  temple,  thou  didst  meet  me  first. 
Collecting  therefore  all  thy  band  of  friends, 
Previous  to  thy  departure  from  the  city 


Of  Delphi,  with  the  victim  ox  regale  ihem. 

But  I  command  you,  damsels,  to  conceal 

What  I  have  said  :  for  if  ye  to  my  wife 

Disclose  it,  ye  shall  die.  {Exit  XUTHUS. 

Ion.  Then  will  I  go : 

Yet  is  there  one  thing  wanting  to  complete 
My  better  fortunes  :  for  I  cannot  hve 
With  comfort,  if  I  find  not  her  who  bore  me. 
If  I  might  yet  presume  to  wish  for  aught, 
O  may  my  mother  prove  to  be  a  dame 
Of  Athens,  that  from  her  I  may  inherit 
Freedom  of  speech  !     For  if  a  stranger  come 
Into  that  city  pure  from  foreign  mixture, 
Although  he  be  a  denizen  in  name, 
By  servile  fear  his  faltering  tongue  is  tied, 
Nor  dares  he  freely  utter  what  he  thinks,  \Exit  lON. 



I  view  the  tears  which  from  her  eyes  shall  flow 

The  sorrows  that  shall  rend  her  breast, 
Soon  as  my  queen  th'  unwelcome  truth  shall  know 

That  with  an  heir  her  lord  is  blest. 

While  she  forlorn  and  childless  pines. 
What  priest,  O  Phoebus,  chanted  thy  decrees  ? 
Who  bore  this  stripling  nurtured  in  thy  shrines.? 

Suspected  frauds  my  soul  displease, 

Unwonted  terrors  rend  my  heart, 
While  thou  to  him  unfold'st  a  blest  event. 
The  boy  is  versed  in  every  treacherous  art. 
To  him  her  choicest  gifts  hath  fortune  lent. 
Reared,  base-born  alien,  in  a  foreign  land. 
These  obvious  truths  who  fails  with  me  to  understand  ? 

Shall  we,  my  friends,  to  our  queen's  wounded  ear 

Without  the  least  disguise  relate 
How  he  proves  false  who  to  her  soul  is  dear, 

Her  partner  in  each  change  of  fate, 

ION.  73 

That  lord  in  whom  her  hopes  were  placed  ? 

But  he  is  happy  now,  while  she  descends 
Through  misery  to  the  vale  of  years  in  haste : 
Disdained  by  all  his  virtuous  friends 
Shall  Xuthus  droop,  through  fortune's  power, 

To  our  rich  mansions,  who  a  stranger  came, 

Nor  duly  prized  her  gift,  the  royal  dower  : 

Perish  the  traitor  to  our  honoured  dame ! 

Ne'er  may  his  incense  to  the  gods  ascend  ! 
Creusa  shall  know  this.     I  am  our  sovereign's  friend. 


With  his  new  son  th'  exulting  sire 
Already  to  the  festive  banquet  hies, 

Where  steep  Parnassus'  hills  aspire, 

Whose  rocky  summits  touch  the  skies. 

Where  Bacchus  lifts  a  blazing  pine. 

And  the  gay  Maenades  to  join 
His  midnight  dances  haste.     With  footsteps  rude 

Ne'er  may  this  boy  intrude 
Into  my  city  ;  rather  may  he  die, 

And  quit  life's  radiant  mom  : 

For  groaning  Athens  would  with  scorn 
And  jealous  eyes  the  alien  view, 
Should  Xuthus'  fraud  such  cause  for  scorn  supply. 

Enough  for  her  that  o'er  her  plain 
Erst  did  Erectheus  stretch  a  wide  domain. 
Still  be  each  patriot  to  his  children  true. 

Creusa,  Old  Man,  Chorus. 

Cre.  Thou  venerable  man,  who  didst  attend 
Erectheus  the  deceased,  my  honoured  siro, 
Now  mount  the  god's  oracular  abode, 
That  thou  my  joys,  if  Phoebus,  mighty  king. 
The  birth  of  children  shall  foretell,  mayst  share. 
For  surely  to  be  happy  with  our  friends 
Is  most  delightful :  but  (which  Heaven  forbid  !) 
Should  any  evil  happen,  to  behold 
The  face  of  a  benignant  man  is  sweet. 


For  though  I  am  thy  queen,  as  thou  didst  erst 
Honour  my  father,  in  that  father's  stead 
I  reverence  those  grey  hairs. 

Old  Man.  You  still  retain 

A  courtesy  of  manners,  which,  O  daughter, 
Suits  your  illustrious  lineage  :  you  belie  not 
Those  first  great  ancestors  from  whom  you  spring, 
Sons  of  the  teeming  earth.     O  lead  me,  guide 
To  the  prophetic  mansion,  for  to  me 
Th'  ascent  is  steep  :  but  let  thy  needful  aid 
Support  me  while  with  aged  steps  I  move. 

Cre.  Follow  me  now,  look  where  thou  tread'st. 

Old  Man.  These  feet 

Indeed  are  tardy,  but  my  zeal  is  swift. 

Cre.  Lean  o..  thy  staff,  while  up  the  winding  path 
Thou  striv'st  to  climo. 

Old  Man.  'Tis  dailtness  all,  my  eyesight 

So  fails  me. 

Cre.  Thou  speak'st  truth,  but  let  not  this 

Make  thee  dejected. 

Old  Man.  Not  with  my  consent 

Thus  do  I  suffer  ;  but  on  me,  though  loth, 
What  Heaven  inflicts  have  I  no  power  to  heal. 

Cre.  Ye  faithful  females,  who  have  served  me  long, 
Attending  at  the  distaff  or  the  loom. 
What  fortunes  to  my  husband  were  revealed .'' 
Left  he  the  temple  with  a  blest  assurance 
Of  children,  whom  t'  obtain  we  hither  came  ? 
Inform  me  :  for  with  acceptable  tidings 
If  ye  can  greet  me,  ye  will  not  confer 
Such  favour  on  a  mistress  who  distrusts 
The  truth  of  what  ye  utter. 

Chor.  Ruthless  fate ! 

Cre.  This  prelude  to  your  speech  is  inauspicious. 

Chor.  Ah,  wretched  me  !  But  wherefore  am  I  wounded 
By  oracles  that  to  my  lords  belong  ? 
No  more  I     Why  should  I  venture  to  relate 
A  tale  for  which  my  recompense  is  death  .'' 

Cre.  What  means  this  plaint,  and  whence  arise  your 
fears  ? 

ION.  75 

Chor.  Shall  we  speak  out,  shall  we  observe  strict  silence. 
Or  how  shall  we  proceed  ? 

Cre.  Tell  what  you  know 

Of  the  misfortune  which  invades  your  queen. 

Chor.  Yes,  thou  shouldst  hear  it  all,  though  twofold  death 
Awaited  me.     Ne'er  shall  those  arms  sustain. 
Nor  to  tKy  bosom  shalt  thou  ever  clasp. 
The  wished-for  progeny. 

Old  Man.  Alas,  my  daughter. 

Would  I  were  dead  ! 

Cre.  Wretch  that  I  am  !     The  woes 

Ye  have  revealed,  my  friends,  make  life  a  curse. 

Old  Man.  We  perish,  O  my  daughter  I 

Cre.  Grief,  alas ! 

Pierces  my  vitals. 

Old  Man.  Those  untimely  groans 


Cre.         My  plaints  unbidden  force  their  way. 

Old  Man.  Before  we  learn — 

Cre.  Alas,  what  farther  tidings 

Can  I  expect .-' 

Old  Man.       Whether  our  lord  endure 
The  same,  and  share  your  woes,  or  you  alone 
To  adverse  fortune  are  exposed. 

Chor.  On  him, 

Thou  aged  man,  Apollo  hath  bestowed 
A  son  ;  this  blessing  singly  he  enjoys 
Without  his  consort. 

Cre.  You  to  me  unfold 

The  greatest  of  all  evils,  an  affliction 
Which  claims  my  groans. 

Old  Man.  But  is  the  son  you  speak  of 

To  spring  hereafter  from  some  dame  unknown, 
Or  did  Apollo's  oracle  declare 
Thnt  he  is  born  already  ? 

Chor.  To  thy  lord 

Phcebus  an  offspring  gives,  already  t>om, 
Who  hath  attained  the  age  of  blooming  manhood : 
For  I  was  present. 

Cre.  What  is  this  you  scl/? 


To  me  have  you  related  such  a  tale 
As  no  tongue  ought  to  utter. 

Old  Man.  And  to  me. 

Cre.  But  by  what  means,  yet  undisclosed,  the  god 
This  oracle  to  its  completion  brings, 
Inform  me  more  explicitly,  and  who 
This  stripling  is. 

Chor.  Apollo  to  thy  husband 

Gave  for  a  son  him  whom  he  first  should  meet, 
As  from  the  temple  of  the  god  he  came. 

Cre.  But  as  for  me,  alas  !  through  my  whole  life 
Accursed  and  sentenced  to  a  childless  state, 
In  solitary  mansions  shall  I  dwell. 
What  youth  was  by  the  oracle  designed  ? 
"Whom  did  the  husband  of  unhappy  me 
Meet  in  his  passage — how,  or  where  behold  him  .'' 

Chor.  Know'st  thou  that  stripling,  O  my  dearest  queen, 
Who  swept  the  temple.?     He  is  Xuthus'  son. 

Cre.  Ah,  would  to  Heaven  that  I  could  wing  my  flight. 
Through  the  dark  air  beyond  the  Grecian  land 
To  the  Hesperian  stars !     How  great,  how  great 
Are  the  afflictions  I  endure  ! 

Old  Man.  What  name 

His  father  gave  him,  know  you,  or  is  this 
Yet  undetermined  1 

Chor.  Ion  was  he  called, 

Because  he  first  his  happv  father  met. 

Old  Man.  Who  was  his  mother  ? 

Chor.  That  I  cannot  tell : 

But  to  acquaint  thee,  O  thou  nged  man, 
With  all  that's  in  my  power,  her  husband  went, 
In  privacy  to  offer  up  a  victim 
For  the  discovery,  and  the  natal  day 
Of  his  new  son,  and  in  the  hallowed  tent 
With  him  will  celebrate  a  genial  banquet. 

Old  Man.  My  honoured  mistress  (for  with  you  I  grieve), 
We  are  betrayed  by  your  perfidious  lord. 
Wronged  by  premeditated  fraud,  and  cast 
Forth  from  Erectheus'  house  :  I  speak  not  this 

ION.  77 

Through  hatred  to  your  husband,  but  because 

I  love  you  more  than  him,  who  wedding  you 

When  to  the  ciiy  he  a  stranger  came, 

Your  palace  too  and  whole  inheritance 

With  you  receiving,  on  some  other  dame 

Appears  to  have  begotten  sons  by  stealth  : 

How  'twas  by  stealth  I'll  prove  ;  when  he  perceived 

That  you  were  barren,  he  was  not  content 

To  share  the  self-same  fate,  but  on  a  slave, 

Whom  he  embraced  in  secrecy,  begot 

And  to  some  Delphic  matron  gave  this  son, 

That  in  a  foreign  realm  he  might  be  nurtured  : 

He,  to  the  temple  of  Apollo  sent, 

Is  here  trained  up  in  secret.     But  the  sire, 

Soon  as  he  knew  the  stripling  had  attained 

The  years  of  manhood,  hath  on  you  prevailed 

Hither  to  come,  because  you  had  no  child. 

The  god  indeed  hath  spoken  truth  ;  not  so 

Xuthu?,  who  from  his  infancy  hath  reared 

The  boy,  and  forged  these  tales ;  that,  if  detected, 

His  crimes  might  be  imputed  to  the  god  : 

But  coming  hither,  and  by  length  of  time 

Hoping  to  screen  the  fraud,  he  now  resolves 

He  will  transfer  the  sceptre  to  this  stripling, 

For  whom  at  length  he  forges  the  new  name 

Of  Ion,  to  denote  that  he  went  forth 

And  met  him.     Ah,  how  do  I  ever  hate 

Those  wicked  men  who  plot  unrighteous  deeds. 

And  then  adorn  them  with  delusive  art ! 

Rather  would  I  possess  a.  virtuous  friend 

Of  mean  abilities,  than  one  more  wise 

And  profligate.     Of  all  disastrous  fates 

Yours  is  the  worst,  who  to  your  house  admit 

Its  future  lord,  whose  mother  is  unknown, 

A  youth  selected  from  th'  ignoble  crowd, 

The  base-born  issue  of  some  female  slave. 

For  this  had  only  been  a  single  ill 

Had  he  persuaded  you,  since  you  are  childless, 

T'  adopt,  and  in  your  palace  lodged  the  son 


Of  some  illustrious  dame  :  but  if  to  you 
This  scheme  had  been  disgustful,  from  the  kindred 
Of  ^olus  his  sire  should  he  have  sought 
Another  consort.     Hence  is  it  incumbent 
On  you  to  execute  some  great  revenge 
Worthy  of  woman  :  with  the  lifted  sword, 
Or  by  some  stratagem  or  deadly  poison, 
Your  husband  and  his  ofifspring  to  dispatch 
Ere  you  by  them  are  murdered  :  you  will  lose 
Your  life  if  you  delay,  for  when  two  foes 
Meet  in  one  house  some  mischief  must  befall, 
Or  this  or  that.     I  therefore  will  with  you 
Partake  the  danger,  and  with  you  conspire 
To  slay  that  stripling,  entering  the  abode 
Where  for  the  sumptuous  banquet  he  is  making 
Th'  accustomed  preparation.     While  I  view 
The  san,  and  e'en  in  death,  will  I  repay 
"  The  bounty  of  those  lords  who  nurtured  me. 
For  there  is  one  thing  only  which  confers 
Disgrace  on  slaves — the  name  ;  in  all  beside 
No  virtuous  slave  to  freeborn  spirits  yields. 

Chor.  I  too,  O  my  dear  mistress,  am  resolved 
To  be  the  steadfast  partner  of  your  fate, 
And  die  with  glory,  or  with  glory  live. 

Cre.  How,  O  my  tortured  soul,  shall  I  be  silent? 
But  rather  how  these  hidden  loves  disclose  ? 
Shall  I  shake  off  all  shame  ?  for  what  retards 
My  farther  progress .''    To  how  dire  a  struggle 
Doth  my  beleaguered  virtue  lie  exposed.'' 
Hath  not  my  lord  betrayed  me  ?     For  of  house 
And  children  too  am  I  deprived.   All  hopes 
Are  vanished  now  of  which  I  fondly  sought 
T'  avail  myself,  but  could  not,  by  concealing 
The  loss  of  my  virginity,  those  throes 
Concealing  which  I  ever  must  bewail. 
But  by  the  starry  throne  of  Jove,  the  goddess 
Who  haunts  my  rocks,  and  by  the  sacred  banks 
•     Of  Triton's  lake,  whose  waters  never  fail, 
I  my  disgrace  no  longer  will  suppress, 
For,  having  cleansed  my  soul  from  that  pollution 

ION.  79 

1  shall  have  shaken  oft"  a  load  of  cares. 

My  eyes  drop  tears,  and  sorrow  rei\ds  my  soul — 

Assailed  with  treachery  both  by  men  and  gods, 

Whom  I  will  prove  to  have  been  false,  devoid 

Of  gratitude  to  those  they  loved.     O  thou, 

Whose  skilful  hand  attunes  the  sevenfold  chords 

Of  the  melodious  lyre,  from  lifeless  shells 

Eliciting  ihe  Muses'  sweetest  strains, 

Son  of  Latona,  I  this  day  will  publish 

A  tale  to  thee  disgraceful  :  for  thou  cam'st, 

Thou  cam'st  resplendent  with  thy  golden  hair, 

As  I  the  crocus  gathered,  in  my  robe 

Each  vivid  flower  assembling  to  compose 

Garlands  of  frajrance  :  thou  my  snowy  wrist 

Didst  seize  and  drag  me  to  the  cave,  with  shrieks 

While  to  my  mother  for  her  aid  I  cried  : 

'Twas  impudently  done,  thou  lustful  god, 

To  gain  the  favour  of  the  Cyprian  queen. 

In  evil  hour,  to  thee  I  bore  a  son, '  -• 

Whom,  fearful  of  my  mother's  wrath,  I  cast 

Into  that  cave,  where  thou  with  wretched  me 

Didst  join  thyself  in  luckless  love.     Alas  ! 

Now  is  our  miserable  son  no  more. 

On  him  have  vultures  feasted.     But  meanwhile 

Thy  festive  Pieans  to  the  sounding  harp 

Dost  thou  repeat.     O  offspring  of  Latona, 

To  thee  I  speak,  who  from  thy  golden  tripod 

Dost  in  this  centre  of  the  world  dispense 

Thy  oracles.     My  voice  shall  reach  thy  ears, 

O  thou  false  paramour,  who,  from  my  lord 

Thouj^h  thou  no  favours  ever  didst  receive, 

A  son  into  his  mansions  hast  conveyed  : 

Meanwhile  the  offspring  whom  to  thee  I  bore 

Hath  died  unnoticed,  by  the  vultures  torn  ; 

Lost  are  the  bandages  in  which  his  mother 

Had  wrapped  him.     Thee  thy  Delos  doth  abhor, 

The  branches  of  whose  laurel  rise  to  meet 

The  palm,  and  form  that  shade,  where  thee  her  son 

With  arms  divine  Latona  iirst  embraced. 

Chor.  Ah  me  I     How  inexhaustible  a  source 


Of  woes  is  opened,  such  as  must  draw  tears 
From  every  eye. 

Old  Man.        O  daughter,  on  your  face, 
Still  with  unsated  rapture  do  I  gaze. 
My  reason  have  I  lost :  for,  while  I  strive 
From  my  o'erburdened  spirit  to  discharge 
The  waves  of  woe,  fresh  torrents  at  the  poop 
Rush  in  and  overwhelm  me,  since  the  words 
Which  you  have  uttered,  from  your  present  ills 
Digressing  to  the  melancholy  track 
Of  other  sufferings.     What  is  it  you  say  1 
What  charge  would  you  allege  against  Apollo  ? 
What  son  is  this  whom  you  assert  you  bore  ? 
And  in  what  quarter  of  your  native  city 
To  beasts  did  you  expose  him  for  a  prey  1 
To  me  repeat  the  tale. 

Cre.  Thou  aged  man. 

Thy  presence  makes  rne  blush  :  yet  will  I  speak. 

Old  Man.  Full  well  do  I  know  how  to  sympathize 
With  my  afflicted  friends. 

Cre.  Then  hear  my  tale. 

Thou  must  remember,  on  the  northern  side 
Of  the  Cecropian  rock,  the  cave  called  Macra. 

Old  Man.  I  know  it ;  on  that  spot  Pan's  temple  stands. 
And  near  it  blaze  his  altars. 

Cre.  'Twas  the  scene 

Of  my  unhappy  conflict. 

Old  Man.  Say,  what  conflict? 

Your  history  makes  me  weep. 

Cre  The  amorous  god 

Apollo  held  me  in  a  forced  embrace. 

Old  Man.  Was  this,  my  daughter,  then,  what  I  perceived  .^ 

Cre.  I  know  not ;  but  will  openly  declare 
The  truth,  if  thy  conjectures  light  on  it. 

Old  Man.  When  you  in  silence  wailed  some  hidden  woe  ? 

Cre.  Those  evils  happened  then  which  I  to  thee 
Without  disguise  reveal. 

Old  Man.  But  by  what  means 

Your  union  with  Apollo  did  you  hide? 

ION.  8i 

Cre.  I  bore  a  son — with  patience  hear  me  speak, 
O  venerable  man. 

Old  Man.  Where  'i    Who  performed 

Th'  obstetric  part?     Did  you  alone  endure 
The  grievous  throes  of  childbirth  ? 

Cre.  All  alone 

Within  that  cave  where  1  my  honour  lost. 

Old  Man.  But  where's  the  boy,  that  in  this  childless  stale 
Thou  mayst  remain  no  longer  ? 

Cre.  He  is  dead, 

Old  man  ;  to  beasts  was  he  exposed. 

Old  Man.  How  !     Dead ! 

Was  Phoebus  then  so  base  as  not  to  aid  you  ? 

Cre.  No  aid  he  gave  :  but  in  the  dreary  house 
Of  Pluto  is  our  hapless  offspring  nurtured. 

Old  Man.  But  who  exposed  him  ?  Sure  it  was  not  you  ? 

Cre.  I  in  the  midnight  gloom  around  him  wrapped 
A  mantle. 

Old  Man.  To  th'  exposure  of  your  son 
Was  no  man  privy  ? 

Cre.  I  had  no  accomplice 

But  secrecy  with  evil  fortune  leagued. 

Old  Man.  And  how  could  you  endure  to  leave  the  child 
Within  that  cavern .? 

Cre.  How  ?    These  lips  did  utter 

Full  many  piteous  words. 

Old  Man.  The  cruelty 

Which  you  here  showed  was  dreadful :  but  the  god 
Than  you  was  still  more  cruel. 

Cre.  Had  you  seen 

The  child  stretch  forth  his  suppliant  hands  to  me — 

Old  Man.  Sought  he  the  fostering  breast,  or  to  recHne 
In  your  maternal  arms  ? 

Cre.  Hence  torn  he  suffered 

From  me  foul  wrong. 

Old  Man.  But  whence  could  such  a  thought 

Enter  your  soul  as  to  expose  your  son  ? 

Cre.  Because  I  hoped  Apollo,  who  begot, 
Would  save  him. 


Old  Man.  Ah,  what  storms  have  overwhelmed 

The  fortunes  of  your  house  1 

Cre.  Why,  covering  up 

Thy  head,  thus  weep'st  thou,  O  thou  aged  man  ? 

Old  Man.  Because  I  see  you  and  your  father  wretched. 

Cre.  Such  is  the  doom  of  frail  mortality  : 
Nought  rests  in  the  same  state. 

Old  Man.  But  let  us  dwell 

No  more,  O  daughter,  on  the  piteous  theme. 

Cre.  What  must  I  do  ?    The  wretched  can  devise 
No  wholesome  counsel. 

Old  Man.  On  the  god  who  wronged  you 

First  wreak  your  vengeance. 

Cre.  How  can  I  a  mortal 

O'ercome  the  potent  deities  ? 

Old  Man.  Set  fire 

To  Phoebus'  awful  temple. 

Cre.  Fear  restrains  me, 

And  I  endure  sufficient^voes. already. 

Old  Man.  Dare  then  to  do  what's  feasible,  to  kill 
Your  husband. 

Cre.  I  revere  the  nuptial  bed, 

For  when  I  first  espoused  the  noble  Xuthus, 
My  lord  was  virtuous. 

Old  Man.  Slay  at  least  this  boy, 

Who  is  produced  your  interest  to  oppose. 

Cre.  Ah,  by  what  means  1     How  greatly  should  I  wish 
This  done,  if  it  were  possible. 

Old  Man.  By  anning 

With  swords  your  followers. 

Cre.  I  will  go  :  but  where 

Shall  this  be  executed.'* 

Old  Man.  In  the  tent 

Where  with  a  banquet  he  regales  his  friends. 

Cre.  This  were  a  public  outrage,  and  my  band 
Of  followers  is  but  weak. 

Old  Man.  Alas  !  your  courage 

Deserts  you :  forge  yourself  some  better  scheme. 

Cre.  I  too  have  sckemes  both  subtle  and  effective. 

ION.  83 

Old  Man.  In  both  will  I  assist  you. 

Cre.  Hear  me  then  : 

Full  well  thou  know'st  the  hist'ny  of  that  war 
Waged  by  earth's  brood. 

Old  Man.  Against  the  gods  I  know 

The  giants  fought  on  the  Phlasgrean  plain. 

Cre.  There  earth  produced  the  Gorgon,  dreadful  monster. 

Old  Man.  To  aid  her  sons  in  battle,  and  contend 
With  the  immortal  powers. 

Cre.  E'en  so,  and  Pallas, 

Daughter  of  Jove,  the  virgin  goddess,  slew 
This  prodigy. 

Old  Man.     But  by  what  horrid  form 
Was  it  distinguished  ? 

Cre.  Hissing  serpents  twined 

Around  its  chest. 

Old  Man.  Is  this  the  talc  I  heard 

In  days  of  yore  ? 

Cre.  Tiiat  Pallas  wears  its  hide 

To  guard  her  bosom. 

Old  Man.  Which  they  call  the  ^gis, 

The  garment  of  Minerva. 

Cre.  It  obtained 

This  name,  amidst  the  combat  of  the  gods 
When  she  advanced. 

Old  ^Ian.  But  how  can  this,  O  daughter, 

Destroy  your  foes .'' 

Cre.  Old  man,  art  thou  acquainted 

With  Ericthonius,  or  an  utter  stranger 
To  his  whole  history  ? 

Old  Man.  Him  whom  earth  brought  forth, 

The  founder  of  your  race. 

Cre.  Minerva  gave 

To  him  when  newly  born — 

Old  Man.  Gave  what  .^  You  speak 

With  hesitation. 

Cre.  Of  the  Gorgon's  blood 

Two  drops. 

Old  Man.  On  mortals  what  effect  have  these  .^ 


Cre.  The  one  produces  death,  the  other  heals 
£ach  malady. 

Old  Man.      In  what  were  they  contained  ? 
Did  Pallas  to  the  body  of  the  child 
Affix  them  ? 

Cre.  To  his  golden  bandages  : 

He  gave  them  to  my  sire. 

Old  Man.  But  when  he  died, 

Did  they  devolve  to  you  ? 

Cre.  To  me  they  came, 

And  them  e'en  now  around  my  wrists  I  wear. 

Old  Man.  But  of  what  wondrous  qualities,  O  say, 
Consists  this  twofold  present  of  the  goddess .-' 

Cre.  That  blood  which  issued  from  the  monster's  vein. 

Old  Man.  What  is  the  use  of  this  ?  and  with  what  virtues 
Is  it  endued  ? 

Cre.  Diseases  it  repels. 

And  nourishes  man's  life. 

Old  Man.  But  what  effect 

Arises  from  the  second  drop  you  speak  of  ? 

Cre.  Inevitable  death  :  for  'lis  the  venom 
Of  serpents  which  around  the  Gorgon  twine. 

Old  Man.  These  drops  together  mingled,  do  you  bring, 
Or  separate  ? 

Cre.  Separate.     For  with  evil  good 

Ought  not  to  be  confounded. 

Old  Man.  You  possess, 

My  dearest  daughter,  all  that  you  can  need. 

Cre.  By  this  the  boy  must  die  :  but  to  dispatch  him 
Shall  be  your  office. 

Old  Man.  Where  and  by  what  means 

Can  I  dispatch  him  ?     It  is  yours  to  speak, 
But  mine  to  execute. 

Cre.  When  at  my  house 

III  Athens  he  arrives. 

Old  Man.  In  this  you  speak 

Unwisely ;  for  you  treat  with  scorn  my  counsels. 

Cre.  What  mean'st  thou  ?     Hast  thou  formed  the  same  sus- 
Which  have  just  entered  my  misgiving  soul  }  [picions 

ION.  85 

Old  Man.  Although  this  boy  you  slay  not,  you  will  seem 
To  have  contrived  his  death, 

Cre.  'Tis  Well  observed  : 

For  every  tongue  asserts  that  stepdames  envy 
Their  husband's  children. 

Old  Man.  Kill  him,  therefore,  here ; 

You  then  will  be  enabled  to  deny 
That  by  your  means  he  perished. 

Cre.  Ere  it  comes, 

I  that  blest  hour  anticipate. 

Old  Man.  Your  husband 

Will  you  deceive  e'en  in  that  very  point 
In  which  he  strives  t'  o'erreach  you. 

Cre.  Know'st  thou  then 

How  to  proceed  ?    This  ancient  golden  vase 
Wrought  by  Minerva,  at  my  hand  receiving, 
Go  where  my  lord  in  secret  offers  up 
His  victims  ;  when  the  banquet  is  concluded, 
And  they  prepare  to  pour  forth  to  the  gods 
The  rich  libation,  by  thy  robe  conce  iled 
Infuse  into  the  goblet  of  the  youth 
Its  venomous  contents  ;  for  him  alone, 
Who  in  my  house  hereafter  hopes  to  reign, 
A  separate  draught,  but  not  designed  for  all. 
Should  he  once  swallow  this,  he  ne'er  will  reach 
The  famed  Athenian  gates,  but  here  remain 
A  breathless  corse. 

Old  Man.  This  mansion,  for  the  purpose        ^ 

Of  public  hospitality  designed, 
Now  enter  :  I  meanwhile  will  execute 
The  business  I'm  employed  in.     Aged  feet 
Grow  young  again  by  action,  though  past  time 
Can  ne'er  be  measured  back.    Attend,  my  queen  I 
Bear  me  to  him  I  hate,  aid  me  to  slay 
And  drag  him  forth  from  the  polluted  temple  ! 
For  in  their  prosperous  fortunes  men  are  bound 
To  be  religious ;  but  no  law  obstructs 
His  progress  who  resolves  to  smite  his  foes. 

{Exeunt  Creusa  aiiJ  Old  Man. 




I.  I. 

O  Trivia,  Ceres'  daughter,  who  presid'st 

O'er  the  nocturnal  passenger, 
And  him  by  day  who  travels ;  if  thou  guid'st 

Th'  envenomed  cup,  it  shall  not  err 

Before  it  reach  the  destined  lip 
Of  him  to  whom  my  venerable  queen 

Sends  the  Gorgon's  blood  to  sip, 
Who  treacherously  intruding  would  debase 

Her  ancestors'  imperial  .race. 
No  alien's  brood  in  Athens  shall  be  seen  ; 
The  city  where  Erectheus  filled  the  throne 
Shall  still  be  ruled  by  his  posterity  alone. 

I.    2. 

But  if  in  vain  to  slay  the  foe  she  tries, 
Should  fortune  too  desert  my    queen, 

And  hope  which  now  promotes  the  bold  emprise ; 
The  biting  falchion's  edge  I  ween, 
Or,  twined  around  her  neck,  the  noose, 

Will  finish  these  accumulated  woes. 
Then  the  flitting  spirit,  loose 

From  earthly  gyves,  in  other  forms  shall  live. 
For  she  will  never  tamely  give 

Consent,  that  he,  to  foreign  realms  who  owes 

His  birth,  shall  seize  the  palace  of  her  sires  : 
Hence  from  her  vivid  eyes  thick  flash  indignant  fires. 

II.  I. 

Shame  for  that  injured  god  I  feel 
To  whom  the  muse  awakes  her  varied  strain. 
Intruding  with  officious  zeal. 
Around  Callichore's  famed  spring, 
On  the  moon's  twentieth  eve,  should  he  profane 
The  kindled  torches,  and  his  tribute  bring, 
A  sleepless  votary,  mingUng  with  his  train, 

ION.  B7 

When  in  the  dance  the  starry  sky 
Of  Jove,  with  the  resplendent  moon,  unites, 

And  fifty  maids,  the  progeny 
Of  Nereus,  sport  midst  ocean's  rapid  tide, 

Or  where  exhaustless  rivers  glide, 
To  Proserpine  and  Ceres'  mystic  rites 
Yielding  due  homage :  from  the  Delphic  fane. 

Yet  there  this  vagrant  hopes  to  reign, 
And  satiate  his  rapacious  soul's  desire 

With  wealth,  which  others'  toils  acquire. 

II.  2. 

Ye  bards  who  crowd  each  hostile  page 
With  tales  of  wives  beguiled  by  lawless  love, 

And  war  with  feeble  woman  wage, 

View  with  impartial  eye  our  deeds. 
And  listen  for  a  moment  while  I  prove 
How  greatly  female  chastity  exceeds 
Man,  whom  unbridled  passions  prompt  to  rove. 

Oft  have  rude  songs  profaned  our  name, 
Now  let  the  muse  man's  haughty  sex  assail, 

And  publish  deeds  replete  with  shame. 
For  he  who  from  Jove's  sons  derives  his  birth 

Is  void  of  gratitude  and  worth. 
Nought  could  the  throne  his  consort  gave  avail 
To  make  the  nuptial  bed  his  scene  of  joy : 

He  hath  obtained  this  spurious  boy. 
By  the  seducing  wiles  of  Venus  led 

To  some  ignoble  damsel's  bed. 

Servant,  Chorus. 

Ser.  Where,  O  ye  noble  matrons,  shall  I  find 
My  queen,  Erecthcus'  daughter?     For  in  quest 
Of  her  through  the  whole  city  have  I  ranged. 
But  cannot  meet  with  her. 

Chor.  O  thou  who  tend'st 

On  the  same  lords  with  me,  what  fresh  event 
Hath  happened — wherefore  mov'st  thou  with  such  speed  ? 
And  what  important.tidings  dost  thou  bring.?.-. . 


Ser.  We  are  pursued  :  the  rulers  of  this  land 
Search  after  her,  resolved  that  she  shall  die, 
Thrown  headlong  from  the  rock. 

Chor.  Ah  me !  what  sayst  thou  ? 

Could  we  not  then  conceal  our  scheme  of  slaying 
The  boy  ? 

Ser.        We  are  detected,  and  her  danger 
Is  now  most  imminent. 

Chor.  But  by  what  means 

Were  these  our  hidden  stratagems  brought  forth 
To  public  view  ? 

Ser.  The  god  hath  found  injustice 

Too  weak  to  cope  with  justice,  nor  allows 
His  shrine  to  be  polluted. 

Chor.  I  entreat  thee 

Say  how  this  happened  :  for  when  we  have  heard 
Whether  our  doom  be  death,  we  shall  die  gladly, 
Or,  if  we  live,  with  pleasure  view  the  sun. 

Ser.  When  from  the  god's  oracular  abode 
With  his  new  son  Creusa's  husband  went 
To  hold  a  feast,  and  for  th'  immortal  powers 
Prepared  oblations,  Xuthus  sought  the  hill 
Whence  Bacchus'  flames  burst  forth,  that  he  might  sprinkle 
Parnassus'  cloven  summit  with  ihe  blood 
Of  slaughtered  victims,  celebrating  thus 
The  blest  discovery  of  his  long-lost  son. 
Whom  thus  the  sire  accosted  :  "  Here  remain. 
And  bid  the  builders  labour  to  erect 
Such  tent  as  shall  enclose  an  ample  space 
On  every  side :  but  when  I  to  those  gods 
Who  bless  the  natal  hour  have  sacrificed, 
If  I  stay  long,  before  thy  friends  who  here 
Are  present,  place  the  genial  feast."    Then  taking 
The  heifers,  he  departed.     But  the  youth, 
Attentive  to  his  pious  task,  on  columns 
Erected  the  light  roof,  to  which  no  walls 
Lent  their  support  ;  he  guarded  it  with  care, 
Both  from  the  flaming  sun's  meridian  rays, 
And  from  the  western  aspect ;  then  the  sides 

ION.  .  89 

An  acre  each  in  length  did  he  extend, 

With  equal  angles  ;  in  the  central  space 

Was  there  an  area,  each  of  the  four  sides 

Its  length  extended  to  six  hundred  feet, 

A  perfect  square,  which  skilful  artists  say 

Was  calculated  well  to  entertain 

All  Delphi  at  the  feast  ;  the  sacred  tapestry 

Then  taking  from  the  treasures  of  the  god, 

He  covered  o'er  the  whole — a  wondrous  sight 

To  all  beholders.      First  he  o'er  the  roof 

Threw  robes,  which  Hercules,  the  son. of  Jove, 

To  Phosbus  at  his  temple  brought,  the  spoils 

Of  vanquished  Amazons,  a  votive  gift, 

On  which  these  pictures  by  the  loom  were  wrought : 

Heaven,  in  its  vast  circumference  all  the  stars 

Assembling  ;  there  his  coursers,  too,  the  sun 

Impetuous  drove,  till  ceased  his  waning  flame, 

And  with  him  drew  in  his  resplendent  train 

Vesper's  clear  light ;  but,  clad  in  sable  garb, 

Night  hastened  onward,  with  her  chariot  drawn 

By  steeds  unyoked  ;  the  stars  accompanied 

Their  goddess ;  through  mid-air  the  Pleiades, 

And,  with  his  falchion,  armed  Orion  moved ; 

But  placed  on  high,  around  the  Northern  Pole, 

The  Bear,  in  an  averted  posture,  turned  ; 

Then  full-orbed  Cynthia,  who  the  months  divides, 

Darted  her  splendour  from  the  realms  above  ; 

Next  came  the  Hyades,  a  sign  well  known 

To  sailors,  and  Aurora's  dawning  light. 

The  stars  dispelling.     But  the  sides  he  covered 

With  yet  more  tapestry  :  the  Barbaric  fleet 

To  that  of  Greece  opposed  was  there  displayed ; 

Followed  a  monstrous  brood,  half  horse,  half  man, 

The  Thracian  monarch's  furious  steeds  subdued, 

And  lion  of  Nemaea  ;  at  the  gate 

Close  to  his  d  .ughters  Cecrops  rolled  along 

On  scaly  folds  ;   this  was  a  votive  gift 

From  some  Athenian  citizen  unknown. 

He  in  the  centre  of  the  festive  board 

9<>^  .         EURIPIDES. 

Placed  golden  cups.     An  aged  herald  went 

On  tiptoe,  and  each  citizen  of  Delphi 

Invited  to  attend  the  sumptuous  feast. 

They,  crowned  with  garlands,  when  the  tent  was  filled, 

Indulged  their  genius.     After  the  delight 

Of  the  repast  was  o'er,  an  aged  man, 

Into  the  midst  advancing,',  took  his  stand, 

And  from  the  guests  by  his  officious  zeal 

Provoked  abundant  laughter  :  from  huge  urns 

He  poured  the  water  forth  to  lave  their  hands, 

And  scattered  all  around  from  blazing  myrrh 

A  rich  perfume,  over  the  golden  cups 

Presiding,  and  assuming  to  himself 

That  office.     But  at  length,  Avhen  the  shrill  pipe 

Uttered  its  notes  harmonious,  and  the  wine 

Again  went  round,  the  jovial  veteran  cried  : 

*'  These  smaller  cups  remove,  and  in  their  stead 

Large  goblets  bring,  that  all  may  cheer  their  souls 

More  expeditiously."     Then  toiled  the  servants 

Beneath  the  silver  vessels  which  they  bore, 

And  golden  beakers  by  the  sculptor  wrought  : 

But  he,  selecting  one  of  choicest  mould. 

As  if  he  only  meant  to  show  respect 

To  his  young  lord,  presented  it  filled  high 

Up  to  the  brim,  infusing  midst  the  wine 

A  deadly  poison,  which  'tis  said  his  queen 

Gave  him,  that  the  new  offspring  of  her  lord 

Might  perish,  but  without  iis  being  known 

To  any  man  what  caused  the  stripling's  death. 

While  he,  whom  Xuihus  has  declared  his  son, 

Surrounded  by  his  comrades,  in  his  hands 

Held  the  libation,  some  reproachful  word 

Was  uttered  by  a  servant,  which  the  youth. 

Who  had  received  his  nurture  in  the  fane 

And  midst  experienced  prophets,  thought  an  omen 

Most  unpropitious,  and  another  goblet 

Commanded  to  be  filled  :  but,  on  the  ground, 

As  a  libation  to  the  Delphic  god. 

Poured  forth  the  first,  and  bade  his  comrades  follow 

ION.  91 

Th'  example  which  he  gave.     A  general  silence 

Succeeded  :  we  the  holy  goblets  filled 

With  water  and  with  Biblian  wine.     While  thus 

We  were  employed,  there  flew  into  the  tent 

A  flock  of  doves  (for  they  beneath  the  roof 

Of  Phoebus  dwell  secure) ;  but  of  the  wine 

When  they  had  tasted,  after  they  had  dipped 

Their  beaks,  which  thirsted  for  the  luscious  draught, 

And  the  rich  beverage  down  their  featnered  throats 

Quafi"ed  eagerly,  innoxious  did  it  prove 

To  all  beside,  but  she,  who  on  the  spot 

Had  settled  where  the  new-discovered  stripling 

Poured  his  libation  down,  no  sooner  tasted 

The  liquor,  than  she  shook  her  wings,  cried  out 

With  a  shrill  plaintive  voice,  and,  groaning,  uttered 

Notes  unintelligible.     Every  guest 

The  struggles  of  the  dove  amazed  ;  she  died 

Torn  with  convulsions,  and  her  purple  feet 

Now  loosed  their  hold.     But  at  the  social  board. 

He  whom  the  oracle  declared  the  son 

Of  Xuthus,  rent  his  garments,  bared  his  breast. 

And  cried,  "  What  miscreant  strove  to  slay  me.     Speak, 

Old  man,  for  this  officious  zeal  was  thine. 

And  from  thy  hand  the  goblet  I  received." 

Then  with  impetuous  grasp  his  aged  arm 

He  caught,  and  questioned  him,  that  in  the  fact 

Of  bearing  venomed  drugs  he  might  detect  him. 

Hence  was  the  truth  laid  open  :  through  constraint, 

At  length  did  he  reluctantly  declare 

Creusa's  guilt,  and  how  her  heart  contrived 

The  scheme  of  minist'ring  th'  envenomed  draught. 

Forth  from  the  bnnquet  with  his  comrades  rushed 

The  youth,  whom  Phoebus'  oracles  pronounced 

To  be  the  son  of  Xuthus.     Standing  up 

Among  the  Pythian  nobles,  thus  he  spoke: 

"  O  sacred  land,  the  daughter  of  Erectheus, 

A  foreign  dame,  would  take  away  my  life 

By  poison."'     Delphi's  rulers  have  decreed 

My  queen  shall  be  thrown  headlong  from  the  rock, 


Nor  hath  one  single  voice,  but  the  consent 
Of  all,  adjudged  her  death,  because  she  strove, 
E'en  in  the  temple,  to  have  slain  the  priest. 
Pursued  by  the  whole  city,  hither  bend 
Her  inauspicious  steps.     She  through  a  wish 
For  children  to  Apollo  came  :  but  now 
She  perishes  with  all  her  hoped-for  race.     \^Exit  Servant. 
Chor.  No  means  are  left  for  wretched  me 

The  ruthless  hand  of  death  to  'scape ; 

For  all  too  plainly  see, 
Mixt  with  the  purple  juices  of  the  grape, 

The  baleful  drops  of  viper's  blood : 
'Tis  manifest  what  victims  were  designed 
To  cross  the  dreary  Stygian  flood, 
My  life  is  doomed  to  close  in  woe, 
At  me  huge  rocky  fragments  will  they  throw. 
How,  O  my  royal  mistress,  shall  I  find 
Pinions  to  speed  my  rapid  flight  ? 
How  shall  I  penetrate  earth's  inmost  womb, 
And  in  the  realms  of  night 
Avoid  this  miserable  doom  ; 
Avoid  the  stones  which  vengeance  hurls  around. 
When  at  our  heads  she  aims  the  wound  ? 
Shall  I  the  fleetest  steed  ascend, 
Or  the  tall  prow  which  cleaves  the  billowy  main  ? 

No  heart  can  hide  so  foul  a  stain, 
Unless  some  god  his  sheltering  aid  extend. 
How  sorely,  O  my  wretched  queen, 
Will  thy  tortured  spirit  grieve  ! 
And  shall  not  we,  who  have  been  seen 
Striving  to  work  another's  bane. 
The  woes  we  would  inflict,  receive, 
As  justice  doth  ordain  ? 

Creusa,  Chorus. 

Cre.  My  faithful  followers,  they  pursue  my  flight, 
Resolved  to  slay  me  ;  by  the  public  vote 
Of  all  the  Pythian  citizens  condemned, 
I  shall  be  yielded  up. 

ION.  93 

Chor.  We  are  no  strangers 

To  thy  calamities ;  mayst  thou  escape. 
Favoured  by  fortune  ! 

Cre.  Whither  shall  I  fly? 

These  feet  were  hardly  swift  enough  l'  outstrip, 
Impending  death  :  but  from  my  foes  escaped, 
By  stealth  I  come. 

Chor.  What  shelter  canst  thou  need 

More  than  these  altars  furnish  ? 

Cre.  How  can  they 

Avail  me  ? 

Chor.       'Tis  unlawful  to  destroy 
The  suppliant. 

Cre.  But  the  law  hath  sentenced  me 

To  perish. 

Chor.       Hadst  thou  by  their  hands  been  caught. 

Cre.  But  the  relentless  ministers  of  vengeance, 
Armed  with  drawn  swords,  haste  hither. 

Chor.  Take  thy  seat 

Close  to  the  altar,  for  if  there  thou  die, 
Thy  blood  will  on  thy  murderers  fix  a  stain 
That  ne'er  can  be  effaced.     But  we  with  patience 
Are  bound  to  suffer  what  the  Fates  inflict. 

Ion,  Creusa,  Chorus. 

Ion.  Cephisus,  O  thou  awful  sire,  who  bear's! 
The  semblance  of  a  bull,  what  viper's  this 
Thou  hast  begotten,  or  what  dragon  darting 
Flames  most  consuming  from  her  murderous  eyes  ! 
She  with  unbounded  boldness  is  endued, 
And  pestilent  as  those  envenomed  drops 
Of  Gorgon's  blood  with  which  she  sought  to  kill  me. 
Seize  her  !     Parnassus'  rocks  shall  tear  away 
The  graceful  ringlets  of  her  streaming  hair. 
When  headlong  from  its  summit  she  is  thrown. 
Me  hath  propitious  fortune  here  detained, 
Else  to  th'  Athenian  city  had  I  gone, 
And  fallen  into  a  cruel  step-dame's  snares, 
But  while  I  yet  among  my  friends  I'emain,  / 


Thy  heart  have  I  explored,  how  grent  a  pest 

And  foe  thou  art  to  me,  for  at  thy  doors 

Hadst  thou  received  me,  thou  to  Pluto's  reahn 

Wouldst  instantly  have  hurled  me  down.     Behold 

The  sorceress,  what  a  complicated  scene 

Of  treachfery  hath  she  framed,  yet  trembles  not 

The  altar  of  Apollo  to  approach, 

As  if  Heaven's  vengeance  could  not  reach  her  crimes. 

But  neither  shall  this  altar^aor  the  temple 

Of  Phcebus  save  thy  life  :  for  the  compassion 

Thou  wouldst  excite  is  rather  due  to  me 

And  to  my  mother ;  for  although,  in  person, 

She  be  not  here,  yet  is  that  much-loved  name 

Ne'er  absent  from  my  thoughts. 

Cre.  To  spare  my  life 

In  my  own  name  I  warn  you,  and  in  that 
Of  the  vindictive  god  before  whose  altar 
We  stand. 

Ion.        But  what  hast  thou  to  do  with  Phoebus  ? 

Cre.  Myself  I  to  the  Delphic  god  devote. 

Ion.  Though  thou  his  priest  by  poison  wouldst  have  slain. 

Cre.  Phoebus  in  you  had  r.t  that  time  no  right, 
Because  you  were  your  father's. 

Ion.  I  was  once 

Apollo's,  and  still  call  myself  his  son. 

Cre.   To  him  indeed  you  formerly  belonged. 
But  now  am  I  his  votary,  and  no  claim 
Have  you  to  such  a  title. 

Ion.  Thy  behaviour 

Is  impious,  mine  was  pious  erst. 

Cre.  I  sought 

To  take  away  the  life  of  you,  a  foe 
To  me  and  to  my  house. 

Ion.  Did  I  with  arms 

Invade  thy  country  ? 

Cre.  Yes,  and  you  have  fired 

The  mansions  of  Erectheus, 

Ion.  With  what  brands, 

What  flames  ? 

ION.  95 

Cre.  You  in  my  palace  would  have  dwelt, 

Seizing  it  'gainst  my  will. 

Ion.  My  sire  bestowing  - 

On  me  the  realm  his  valour  had  obtained. 

Cre.  But  by  what  claim  rule  /Eolus'  race 
Over  Minerva's  city  ? 

Ion.  With  his  sword 

He  rescued  it,  and  not  with  empty  words. 

Cre.  He  was  but  an  ally,  nor  was  that  land 
His  proper  residence. 

Ion.  Through  the  mere  dread 

Of  what  might  happen,  wouldst  thou  then  have  slain  me? 

Cre.  Lest  I  should  perish  if  your  life  were  spared. 

Ion.  With  envy  art  thou  stung,  because  my  sire 
Discovered  me,  while  thou  remain'st  yet  childless. 

Cre.  Would  you  invade  the  childless  matron's  house  ? 

Ion.  But  have  not  I  some  title  to  a  share 
Of  my  sire's  wenlth  ? 

Cre.  a  shield  and  spear  are  all 

Your  father  had,  and  all  that  you  can  claim. 

Ion.  Leave  Phoebus'  altar  and  this  hallowed  seat. 

Cre.  Where'er  she  dwell,  to  your  own  mother  give 
Such  admonitions. 

Ion.  Shalt  thou  'scape  unpunished 

For  thy  attempt  to  slay  me .' 

Cre.  If  you  mean 

To  take  away  my  life,  let  it  be  here 
Within  this  temple. 

Ion.  What  delight  to  thee 

Can  it  afford,  amid  the  votive  wreaths 
Of  Phoebus  to  expire  .'' 

Cre.  I  shall  afflict 

One  by  whom  I  have  greatly  been  afflicted. 

Ion.  Oh  !  'tis  most  wondrous  how,  for  man  t'  observe, 
The  deity  such  laws  as  are  not  good 
Or  prudent  hath  enacted.     For  th*  unjust 
Before  their  altars  ought  to  find  no  seat, 
But  thence  to  be  expelled  ;  for  'tis  not  fit 
The  statues  of  the  gods  by  impious  hands 


Should  be  profaned  ;  but  every  virtuous  man 
Who  is  oppressed  ought  to  find  shelter  there. 
Yet  is  it  most  unseemly  for  the  just 
And  the  unjust,  when  here  they  meet  together, 
T'  experience  the  same  treatment  from  the  gods. 

Pythian  Priestess,  Ion,  Creusa,  Chorus. 

Pythian  Priestess.  Refrain  thy  rage,  my  son  ;  for  I  the 
Of  Phoebus,  who  the  tripod's  ancient  rites 
Maintain,  selected  from  the  Delphic  maids. 
Leave  his  oracular  abode  and  pass 
This  consecrated  threshold. 

Ion.  Hail,  dear  mother. 

Although  you  bore  me  not. 

Pythian  Pr.  Yet  call  me  such. 

That  name  is  not  ungrateful. 

Ion.  Have  you  heard 

The  stratagems  she  formed  to  murder  me  ? 

Pythian    Pr.    I  heard  them  ;    and  thou  also   hast  trans- 
Through  cruelty. 

Ion.  How?     Can  it  be  unjust, 

Those  who  would  slay  me,  to  reward  with  death  } 

Pythian  Pr.  Wives  with  inveterate  hatred  ever  view 
Their  husbands'  sons  sprung  from  another  bed. 

Ion.  And  we  who  have  by  them  been  greatly  wronged, 
Abhor  those  step-dames. 

Pythian  Pr.  Banish  from  thy  soul    . 

This  rancour,  now  the  temple  thou  art  leaving. 
And  on  thy  journey  to  thy  native  land. 

Ion.  How  then  would  you  advise  me  to  proceed .'' 

Pythian  Pr.  Go  unpolluted  to  th'  Athenian  realm 
With  prosperous  omens. 

Ion.  Sure  the  man  who  slays 

His  foes  is  unpolluted. 

Pythian  Pr.  Act  not  thus : 

But  with  attentive  ear  receive  my  counsels. 

ION.  97 

Ion.  O  speak :  for  your  benevolence  to  me 
Will  dictate  all  you  utter, 

Pythian  Pr.  Dost  thou  see 

The  chest  beneath  my  arm  ? 

Ion.  An  ancient  chest. 

With  garlands  decked,  I  see. 

Pyihian  Pr.  In  this,  thee  erst 

A  new-bom  infant,  I  received. 

Ion.  What  mean  you .-' 

A  fresh  discovery  opens. 

Pythian  Pr.  1  have  kept 

These  tokens  secret ;  but  display  them  now. 

Ion.  How  could  you  hide  them  such  a  length  of  time 
As  since  you  took  me  up  ? 

Pythian  Pr,  The  god  required 

Thy  service  in  his  temple. 

Ion.  Doth  he  now 

No  longer  need  it .''    Who  this  doubt  will  solve  ? 

Pythian  Pr.  By  pointing  out  thy  sire,   he   from   these 
Dismisses  thee. 

Ion.  But  is  it  by  command. 

Or  from  what  motive,  that  this  chest  you  keep? 

Pythian  Pr.  Apollo's  self  inspired  me  with  the  thought— 

Ion.  Of  doing  what  .-*     O  speak  !     Conclude  your  tale. 

Pythian  Pr.  With  care  preserving  to  the  present  time 
What  I  had  found. 

Ion.  But  how  can  this  to  me 

Cause  either  gain  or  damage  ? 

Pythian  Pr.  Know'st  thou  not. 

That  round  thee  close  these  fillets  were  entwined  ? 

Ion.  What  you  produce  may  aid  me  in  th'  attempt 
To  find  my  mother. 

Pyihian  Pr.         With  the  god's  consent. 
Which  he  did  erst  withhold. 

Ion.  O  day,  that  bring'st 

Blest  visions  to  delight  these  wondering  eyes  ! 

Pythiax.  Pr.  Observe  these  hints,  and  diligently  search 
For  her  who  bore  thee  :  traversing  all  Asia, 


98  •  EURIPIDES. 

And  Europe's  farthest  limits,  thou  shalt  know 

The  truth  of  what  I  speak.     Thee,  O  my  son, 

I  nurtured,  through  a  reverence  for  the  god, 

And  here  surrender  to  thy  hands  the  pledges 

Which  'twas  his  will  I  should  receive  and  keep, 

Though  not  commanded :  but  I  cannot  tell 

What  motive  swayed  him.    For,  that  I  possessed 

These  tokens,  was  by  no  man  known,  or  where 

They  were  concealed.     Farewell,  my  love  for  tliee 

Is  equal  to  a  mother's.     With  these  questions 

Thou  shouldst  commence  thy  search  for  her  who  bore  thee  ; 

First,  whether  she  was  any  nymph  of  Delphi, 

W^ho  thee,  the  burden  of  her  womb,  exposed 

Here  in  this  fane  ;  but  be  thy  next  inquiry, 

If  any  Grecian  dame.     For  thou  deriv'st 

All  the  advantages  thou  hast,  from  me. 

And  from  Apollo,  who  in  this  event 

Hath  been  concerned. 

Ion.  Alas  !  what  plenteous  tears 

Steal  from  these  eyes,  while  shuddering  I  revolve 
How  she  who  bore  me,  having  erst  indulged 
A  secret  passion,  did  by  stealth  expose, 
Nor  at  her  breast  sustain  me  :  but  unknown 
I  in  the  temple  of  Apollo  led 
A  servile  life.     The  god  indeed  was  kind, 
But  fortune  harsh  :  for  at  the  very  time 
When  in  maternal  arms  I  should  have  sported, 
And  tasted  somewhat  of  the  joys  of  life, 
I  of  my  dearest  mother's  fostering  care 
Was  cruelly  deprived.     She  from  whose  womb 
I  sprung  is  wretched  too  ;  she  hath  endured 
The  self-same  pangs  with  me,  and  lost  the  bliss 
She  might  have  hoped  for  from  the  son  she  bore. 
But  now  this  ancient  coffer  will  I  take 
And  carry  for  a  present  to  the  god  ; 
O  may  I  hence  discover  nought  to  blast 
My  wishes  !     For  if  liaply  she  who  bore  me 
Should  prove  some  slave,  it  were  a  greater  evil 
To  find  my  mother  than  to  let  her  rest 


In  silence.     I  this  votive  gift,  O  Phoebus, 

Lodge  in  thy  fane.     But  what  presumptuous  deed  ! 

Oppose  I  the  benignant  god  who  saved 

These  tokens  to  assist  me  in  discovering 

My  mother .?     I  am  bound  to  ope  the  Hd, 

And  act  with  courage  :  for  what  fate  ordains 

I  ne'er  can  supersede.     Why  were  ye  hidden 

From  me,  O  sacred  wreaths  and  bandages 

In  which  I  was  preserved  ?     This  orbdd  chest, 

Behold,  how  by  some  counsel  of  the  god 

It  hath  been  freed  from  the  effects  of  age  ; 

Still  is  its  wicker  substance  undecayed, 

Although  the  time  which  intervened  was  long 

For  such  a  store  to  last. 

Cre.  Ah  me !    What  vision 

Most  unexpected  do  I  see  ? 

Chor.  Thou  oft 

Didst  heretofore  know  when  thou  shouldst  be  silent 

Cre.  My  situation  now  no  more  admits 
Of  silence  :  cease  these  counsels;  for  I  view 
The  chest  in  which  I,  O  my  son,  exposed  you, 
While  yet  a  tender  infant,  in  the  cave 
Of  Cecrops  m.idst  th'  encircling  rocks  of  Maera. 
I  therefore  from  this  altar  will  depart, 
Though  death  should  be  the  consequence. 

Ion.  O  seize  her; 

For  she,  with  frenzy  smitten  by  the  god, 
Leaps  from  the  hallowed  altar  :  bind  her  arms. 

Cre,  The  execution  of  your  bloody  purpose 
Suspend  not :  for  this  chest,  and  you,  and  all 
The  hidden  rehcs  it  contains  of  yours, 
My  son,  will  I  hcild  fast. 

Ion.  Are  not  these  arts 

Most  dreadful  ?     With  what  specious  words  e'en  now 
She  claims  me  for  a  pledge  ! 

Cre.  Not  thus  :  but  you, 

Whom  they  hold  dear,  are  by  your  friends  discovered. 

Ion.  Am  I  a  friend  of  thine,  and  yet  in  secret 
Wouldst  thou  have  murdered  me  .'' 

D  2 



Cre.  Yea,  and  my  son  ; 

A  name  to  both  thy  parents  ever  dear. 

Ion.   Cease  to  contrive  these  fraudful  stratagems  ; 
For  I  will  clearly  prove  that  thou  art  guilty. 

Cre.  Ah,  would  to  Heaven  that  I  could  reach  the  m;irk 
At  which  I  aim  my  shaft ! 

Ion.  Is  that  chest  empty, 

Or  filled  with  hidden  stores  ? 

Cre.  Here  are  the  garments 

In  which  I  erst  exposed  you. 

Ion.  Canst  thou  tell 

What  name  they  bear  before  thine  eyes  behold  them  ? 

Cre.  Ill  aright  describe  them  not,  to  die 
Will  I  be  nothing  loth. 

Ion.  Speak ;  for  thy  boldness 

Is  somewhat  wonderful. 

Cre.  Observe  the  robe 

Which  erst  I  wove,  when  yet  a  maid. 

Ion.  What  sort 

Of  garment  is  it  ?  for  the  virgins'  loom 
Produces  various  woofs. 

Cre  Not  yet  complete  ; 

The  sketch  bespeaks  a  learner. 

Ion.  In  what  form, 

That  here  thou  mayst  not  take  me  unawares  ? 

Cre.  The  Gorgon  fills  the  centre  of  that  vest. 

Ion.  O  Jove,  what  fate  pursues  me  ! 

Cre.  And  the  margin 

With  serpents  is  encompassed  like  the  .^gis. 

Ion.  Lo  !  this  is  the  same  garment.    We  have  made 
Such  a  complete  discovery  as  resembles 
The  oracles  of  Heaven. 

Cre.  O  woof  which  erst 

My  virgin-shuttle  wrought. 

Ion.  Canst  thou  produce 

Aught  else,  or  in  this  evidence  alone 
Art  thou  successful  ? 

Cre.  In  a  style  antique 

Dragons  with  golden  cheeks,  Minerva's  gift, 



Who  bids  us  rear  our  children  'mong  such  forms, 
In  imitation  of  our  ancestor 
Great  Ericthonius. 

Ion.  What  is  their  effect, 

Or  what  can  be  their  use  ?    To  me  explain 
These  golden  ornaments. 

Cre.  Them,  O  ray  son, 

Around  his  neck  the  new-born  child  should  wear. 

Ion.  Here  are  the  drngons :  but  I  wish  to  know 
What's  the  third  sign. 

Cre.  Then  round  your  trow  I  placed 

A  garland  of  that  olive  which  first  grew 
On  Pallas'  rock ;  this,  if  it  still  be  here, 
Hath  not  yet  lost  the  verdure  of  its  leaves, 
But  flourishes  unwithered  like  the  tree 
From  which  'twas  taken. 

Ion.  O  my  dearest  mother, 

With  what  deUght  do  I  behold  thy  face  ! 
And  on  those  cheeks  with  what  delight  imprint 
The  kiss  of  filial  rapture  ! 

Cre.  O  my  son, 

Who  in  a  mother's  partial  eyes  outshine 
The  splendour  of  Hyperion  (for  the  god 
Wili  pardon  me),  I  clasp  you  in  these  arms 
Found  unexpectedly,  you  whom  I  thought 
To  have  been  plunged  beneath  the  silent  grave, 
And  dwelt  with  Proserpine. 

Ion.  But  while  thou  fling'st, 

O  my  dear  mother,  thy  fond  arms  around  me, 
To  thee  I  seem  like  one  who  hath  been  dead 
And  is  restored  to  life. 

Cre.  Thou  wide  expanse 

Of  radiant  ether,  in  what  grateful  tone 
Shall  I  express  myself?     By  clamorous  shouts  ? 
Whence  hath  such  unexpected  pleasure  reached  me  ? 
To  whom  am  I  indebted  for  this  joy  ? 

Ion.  Sooner  could  I  have  looked  for  aught,  O  mother. 
Happening  to  me,  than  the  discovery  made 
In  this  auspicious  hour,  that  I  am  thine. 


Cre.  With  fear  I  tremble  yet  lest  thou  shouldst  lose — 

Ion.  The  son  who  meets  thy  fond  embrace  ? 

Cre.  Such  hopes 

I  from  my  soul  had  banished.     Whence,  O  woman, 
Didst  thou  with  fostering  arms  receive  my  child.'' 
By  whom  to  Phoebus'  temple  was  he  borne  ? 

Ion.  'Twas  the  god's  doing.     But  may  prosperous  fortune 
Be  ours  through  the  remainder  of  our  lives, 
Which  have  been  wretched  hitherto. 

Cre.  My  son, 

Not  without  tears  were  you  brought  forth ;  your  mother 
'Midst  bitter  lamentations  from  her  arms 
Cast  you  to  earth  :  but  now,  while  to  your  cheeks 
I  press  my  lips,  again  I  breathe,  I  taste 
The  most  ecstatic  pleasures. 

Ion.  What  thou  sayst 

May  to  us  both  with  justice  be  applied. 

Cre.  No  longer  am  I  left  without  an  heir, 
No  longer  childless  ;  my  paternal  house 
Acquires  new  strength,  and  the  Athenian  realm 
Hath  yet  its  native  monarchs.     E'en  Erectheus 
Grows  young  again,  nor  shall  our  earth-born  race 
Be  covered  with  the  shades  of  night,  but  view 
The  sun's  resplendent  beams. 

Ion.  But,  O  my  mother, 

Since  my  sire  too  is  present,  let  him  share 
The  transports  I  to  thee  have  given. 

Cre.  What  words 

Are  these  which  you  have  uttered,  O  my  son  ? 

Ion.  Who  proves  to  be  the  author  of  my  birth. 

Cre.  Why  speak  of  this  1    For  from  another  sire 
You  spring,  and  not  f  om  Xuthus. 

Ion.  Me,  alas ! 

In  thy  unwedded  state,  a  spurious  child, 
Thou  then  didst  bear. 

Cre.  Nor  yet  had  Hymen  waved 

For  me  his  torch,  or  led  the  choral  dance, 
When,  O  my  dearest  son,  for  you  I  felt 
A  mother's  throes. 

ION.  103 

Ion.  From  what  ignoble  race 

Am  I  descended  ? 

Cre.  Witness  she  who  slew 

The  Gorgon. 

Ion,  Ha  !  What  mean'st  thou  by  these  words  ? 

Cre.  Who  on  my  rocks,  whence  with  spontaneous  shoot 
The  fragrant  olive  springs,  my  native  hills, 
Fixes  her  seat. 

Ion.  To  me  thou  speak'st  so  darkly, 

That  what  thou  mean'st  I  cannot  comprehend. 

Cre.  Beneath  the  rock  where  her  harmonious  lays 
The  nightingale  attunes,  I  by  Apollo — 

Ion.  Why  dost  thou  name  Apollo .'' 

Cre.  Was  embraced 

In  secrecy — 

Ion.  Speak  on ;  for  fair  renown. 

And  prosperous  fortune,  will  to  me  accrue 
From  the  event  which  thou  relat'st. 

Cre.  To  Phoebus. 

While  in  its  orbit  the  tenth  moon  revolved, 
I  bore  a  son,  whom  I  concealed. 

Ion.  Most  grateful 

Are  these  strange  tidings,  if  tl:ou  utter  truth. 

Cre.  The  fillets  which  I  erst,  while  yet  a  maid. 
Wove  with  my  shuttle  I  around  you  twined  •, 
But  you  ne'er  clung  to  this  maternal  breast, 
Nor  did  these  hands  for  you  the  laver  hold, 
But  in  a  desert  cavern  were  you  thrown 
To  perish,  torn  by  the  remorseless  beaks 
Of  hungry  vultures. 

Ion.  What  a  horrid  deed 

Was  this,  in  thee,  O  mother  ! 

Cre.  By  my  fears 

Held  fast  in  bondage,  O  my  son,  your  life 
I  would  have  cast  away — would  then,  though  loth. 
Have  murdered  you. 

Ion.  Thou  too  didst  scarce  escape 

From  being  slain  by  my  unholy  rage. 

Cre.  Such  were  my  wretched  fortunes  then,  and  such 


The  apprehensions  which  I  felt.     Now  here, 
Now  there,  we  by  calamity  are  whirled, 
Then  sport  anew  in  prosperous  fortune's  gales, 
Which  often  veer ;  but  may  they  fix  at  last ! 
May  what  I  have  endured  suffice  !     But  now, 
My  son,  doth  a  propitious  breeze  succeed 
The  tempest  of  our  woes. 

Chor.  Let  no  man  think 

Aught  wonderful  that  happens,  when  compared 
With  these  events. 

Ion.  O  fortune,  who  hast  wrought 

A  change  in  countless  multitudes,  whom  first 
Thou  hast  made  wretched,  and  then  blest  anew ; 
What  an  important  crisis  of  my  life 
Is  this  which  I  have  reached,  and  been  exposed 
To  dangers  imminent,  of  slaying  her 
Who  bore  me,  and  enduring  such  a  death 
As  I  deserved  not !     While  we  view  the  sun 
Perform  his  bright  career,  fresh  truths  like  these 
Each  day  lie  open  for  tlie  world  to  learn. 
My  mother  (blest  discovery  !),  thee  I  find, 
Nor  have  I  any  reason  to  complain 
Of  being  sprung  from  an  ignoble  sire. 
But  I  would  tell  the  rest  to  thee  alone  : 
Come  hither  ;  let  me  whisper  in  thine  ear. 
And  ovei  these  transactions  cast  a  veil 
Of  darkness.     Recollect,  if  at  the  time 
When  thou  thy  virgin  purity  didst  forfeil; 
Thou  wert  not  by  some  secret  paramour 
Betrayed,  and  afterwards  induced  to  charge 
The  god  with  having  ruined  thee  ;  my  scorn 
Endeavouring  to  avoid,  by  the  assertion 
That  Phcebus  is  my  father,  though  by  him 
Thou  wert  not  pregnant. 

Cre.  No,  by  her  who  fought, 

Borne  in  a  car  sublime,  for  thundering  Jove 
Against  the  giant's  earth-born  race,  Minerva, 
Victorious  goddess,  by  no  mortal  sire 
Were  you,  my  son,  begotten,  but  by  him 
Who  nurtured  you,  Apollo,  mighty  king. 

ION.  105 

Ion.  What  motive,  then,  had  he  for  yielding  up 
His  offspring  to  another  sire,  pretending 
That  I  am  Xuthus'  son  ? 

Cre.  The  god  asserts  not 

That  Xuthus  was  the  author  of  your  birth, 
But  you,  his  offspring,  doth  on  him  bestow. 
For  to  a  friend  a  friend  may  give  his  son 
T'  inherit  his  possessions. 

Ion.  O  my  mother, 

An  anxious  doubt,  whether  the  god  speak  truth, 
Or  utter  a  fallacious  oracle. 
Is  cause  sufficient  to  disturb  my  soul. 

Cre.  Hear  then,  my  son,  what  thoughts  to  me  occur  : 
Your  benefactor  Phoebus  places  you 
In  an  illustrious  house  ;  but  were  you  called 
The  offspring  of  the  god,  you  would  receive 
For  your  inheritance  nor  v/ide  domains 
Nor  aught  of  rank  paternal.     For  from  him  ' 

With  whom  my  luckless  union  I  concealed. 
And  secretly  attempted  to  have  slain  you, 
How  could  you  look  for  aught  ?     But  he,  promoting 
Your  interest,  to  another  sire  consigns  you. 

Ion.  I  cannot  rashly  credit  tales  like  these. 
But  I  will  go  into  the  fane,  and  ask 
Apollo,  whether  from  a  mortal  sire 
I  spring,  or  whether  I  am  Phoebus'  son. 
Ha  !     Who  is  that,  who  on  the  pinnacles 
Of  this  high  dome  ascending,  like  the  sun, 
Displays  her  front  celestial  1     Let  us  fly, 
My  mother,  lest  perchance  we  view  the  gods 
When  we  are  not  permitted  to  behold  them. 

Minerva,  Ion,  Creusa,  Chorus. 

Mm.  O  stay,  for  'tis  from  me  you  fly,  who  bear 
To  you  no  hate,  but  in  th'  Athenian  realm 
And  here  am  equally  your  friend  :  I,  Pallas, 
From  whom  your  native  1  md  derives  its  name, 
Am  hither  come  with  swift  career  despatched 
By  Phoebus,  in  your  presence  who  himself 


Deems  it  not  meet  i'  appear,  lest  his  past  conduct 

In  foul  reproach  involve  him  :  but  the  god 

Sends  me  t'  inform  you  that  Creusa  bore. 

And  Phoebus  was  the  father  who  begot  you. 

But  you,  the  god,  as  he  sees  fit,  bestows. 

Not  upon  him  who  is  your  real  sire, 

But  hath  contrived  this  plot  that  you  may  gain 

The  heritage  of  an  illustrious  house. 

For  when  the  holy  oracle  pronounced 

This  riddle,  fearing,  by  a  mother's  wiles. 

Lest  you  should  bleed,  or  with  vindictive  hand 

That  mother  sItv,  he  by  a  stratagem 

Hath  extricated  both.     The  royal  seer 

Meant  to  have  kept  this  secret,  till  at  Athens 

He  had  proclaimed  that  you  derive  your  birth 

From  Phcebus  and  Creusa.     But  this  matter 

That  I  may  finish  now,  and  the  contents 

Of  those  important  oracles  reveal, 

Which  to  explore  ye  by  your  harnessed  steeds 

Were  hither  drawn,  attend.     Creusa,  take 

Thy  son,  to  the  Cecropian  land  repair. 

And  place  him  on  the  throne  ;  for,  from  the  race 

Of  great  Erectheus  sprung,  he  is  entitled 

To  rule  my  favoured  realm,  and  shall  be  famed 

Through  Greece  :  for  his  four  sons,  sprun;^  from  one  root. 

Shall,  on  their  country,  and  its  tribes  who  dwell 

Upon  my  sacred  rock,  their  name  confer  ; 

Geleon  the  first ;  then  Hoples,  Argades, 

And,  from  the  shield  I  bear,  a  chief  called  M.g\^ 

Shall  rule  th'  ^gichori.     But  their  descendants, 

Born  at  a  period  by  the  Fates  assigned. 

Amid  the  Cyclades  shall  dwell,  in  towns 

Encircled  by  the  billowy  deep,  and  havens 

Which  to  my  realm  will  add  new  strength :  the  shores 

Of  either  continent  shall  they  possess, 

Asia  and  Europe,  but,  from  Ion,  styled 

lonians,  they  with  glory  shall  be  crowned. 

But  from  thee  too  and  Xuthus  shall  descend 

A  noble  race';  Dorus,  the  mighty  founder 

ION.  xcfj 

Of  the  famed  Doric  realm  ;  in  the  domain 

Of  ancient  Pelops,  shall  your  second  son, 

Achseus,  be  the  monarch  of  the  coast 

Bordering  on  Rhium's  steep  ascent — with  pride 

That  nation  shall  adopt  their  leader's  name. 

In  all  things  hath  Apollo  acted  right ; 

First,  without  pain  he  caused  thee  to  bring  forth, 

Lest  to  thy  friends  thy  shame  should  be  revealed : 

But  after  thou  hadst  borne  this  son,  and  swathed 

Those  fillets  lound  him,  he  bade  Hermes  bring  ' 

The  infant  to  this  fane,  and  nurtured  him, 

Nor  suffered  him  to  die.     Now,  therefore,  keep 

Strict  silence,  nor  declare  that  he  is  thine, 

That  Xuthus  may  exult  in  the  idea 

Of  being  father  to  the  youth,  while  thou, 

0  woman,  shalt  enjoy  the  real  bliss. 
Farewell,  for  from  this  pause  in  your  afflictions 

1  to  you  both  announce  a  happier  fate. 
Ion.  O  Pallas,  daughter  of  imperial  Jove, 

Thy  words  I  disbelieve  not :  for  from  Phoebus 
And  this  illustrious  dame  am  I  convinced 
That  I  derive  my  birth,  which  from  the  first 
Was  not  improbable. 

Cre.  To  what  I  speak 

Now  give  attention  :  I  commend  Apollo, 
Though  erst  I  blamed  him  ;  for  he  now  restores 
To  me  the  son  he  formerly  neglected. 
Now  are  these  portals  pleasing  to  my  sight, 
And  this  oracular  abode  of  Phoebus, 
Which  I  so  lately  loathed.     I  now  these  rings 
Seize  with  exulting  hands,  and  at  the  threshold 
Utter  my  grateful  orisons. 

MiN.  The  praises 

Which  thou  bestow'st  on  Phcebus,  lapplaud, 
And  this  thy  sudden  change  :  for  though  the  aid 
The  gods  afiford  be  tardy,  it  at  length 
Proves  most  efifectual. 

Cre,  Let  us,  O  my  son. 

Repair  to  our  own  Athens. 


MiN.  Thither  go, 

And  I  will  follow. 

Cre.  Deign  t' accompany 

Our  steps,  and  to  our  city  prove  a  friend. 

MiN.  Upon  the  throne  of  thy  progenitors, 
There  take  thy  seat. 

Ion.  To  me  will  such  possession 

Be  honourable. 

Chor.  O  Phoebus,  son  of  Jove 

And  of  Latona,  hail  !     Whene'er  his  house 
Is  shaken  by  calamity,  the  man 
Who  pays  due  reverence  to  the  gods  hath  cause 
To  trust  in  their  protection  :  for  at  length 
The  virtuous  shall  obtain  their  due  reward, 
Nor  shall  the  wicked  prosper  in  the  land. 




Nurse  of  Medea. 

Attendant  on  the  Children. 


Chorus  of  Corinthian  Women. 




The  Two  Sons  of  Jason  and 

Creon.  I      Medea. 

SCENE — Before  the  Palace  of  Creon  at  Corinth. 


Ah  !  would  to  heaven  the  Argo  ne'er  had  urged 

Its  rapid  voyage  to  the  Colchian  strand 

'Twixt  the  Cyanean  rocks,  nor  had  the  pine 

Been  fell  in  Pelion's  forests,  nor  the  hands 

Of  those  illustrious  chiefs,  who  that  famed  bark 

Ascended  to  obtain,  the  golden  fleece 

For  royal  Pelias,  plied  the  stubborn  oar  ; 

So  to  lolchos'  turrets  had  my  Queen 

Medea  never  sailed,  her  soul  with  love 

For  Jason  smitten,  nor,  as  since  her  arts 

Prevailed  on  Pelias'  daughters  to  destroy 

Their  father,  in  this  realm  of  Corinth  dwelt  ' 

An  exile  with  her  husband  and  her  sons  ;  ' 

Thus  to  the  citizens  whose  land  received  her 

Had  she  grown  pleasing,  and  in  all  his  schemes 

Assisted  Jason  :  to  the  wedded  pair, 

Hence  bliss  supreme  arises,  when  the  bond 

Of  concord  joins  them  :  now  their  souls  are  filled 

With  ruthless  hate,  and  all  affection's  lost : 

For  false  to  his  own  sons,  and  her  I  serve, 


With  a  new  consort  of  imperial  binh 

Sleeps  the  perfidious  Jason,  to  the  daughter 

Of  Creon  wedded,  lord  of  these  domains. 

The  wretched  scorned  Medea  oft  exclaims, 

"  O  by  those  oaths,  by  that  right  hand  thou  gav'st 

The  pledge  of  faith  !"    She  then  invokes  the  gods 

To  witness  what  requital  she  hath  found 

From  Jason.     On  a  couch  she  lies,  no  food 

Receiving,  her  whole  frame  subdued  by  grief ; 

And  since  she  marked  the  treachery  of  her  lord 

Melts  into  tears  incessant,  from  the  ground 

Her  eyes  she  never  raises,  never  turns 

Her  face  aside,  but  steadfast  as  a  rock, 

Or  as  the  ocean's  rising  billows,  hears 

The  counsels  of  her  friends,  save  when  she  weeps 

In  silent  anguish,  with  her  snowy  neck 

Averted,  for  her  sire,  her  native  land. 

And  home,  which  she  forsaking  hither  came 

With  him  who  scorns  her  now.     She  from  her  woes 

Too  late  hath  learnt  how  enviable  the  lot 

ftJf  those  who  leave  not  their  paternal  roof. 
She  even  hates  her  children,  nor  with  joy 
Beholds  them  :  much  I  dread  lest  she  contrive 
Some  enterprise  unheard  of,  for  her  soul 

,  Is  vehement,  nor  will  she  tamely  brook 
Injurious  treatment ;  well,  full  well  I  know 
Her  temper,  which  alarms  me,  lest  she  steal 
Into  their  chamber,  where  the  genial  couch 
Is  spread,  and  with  the  sword  their  vitals  pierce, 
Or  to  the  slaughter  of  the  bridegroom  add 
That  of  the  monarch,  and  in  some  mischance, 
Yet  more  severe  than  death,  herself  involve : 
For  dreadful  is  her  wrath,  nor  will  the  object 
Of  her  aversion  gain  an  easy  triumph. 
But  lo,  returning  from  the  race,  her  sons 
Draw  near  :  they  think  not  of  their  mother's  woes, 
For  youthful  souls  are  strangers  to  affliction. 

MEDEA.  Ill 

Attend'ant,  with  the  Sons  of  Jason  and  Medea,  Nurse. 

Att.  O  thou,  who  for  a  length  of  time  hast  dwelt 
Beneath  the  roofs  of  that  illustrious  dame 
I  serve,  why  stand'st  thou  at  these  gates  alone 
Repeating  to  thyself  a  doleful  tale  : 
Or  wherefore  by  Medea  from  her  presence 
Art  thou  dismissed  ? 

NUR.  Old  man,  O  you  who  tend 

On  Jason's  sons,  to  faithful  servants  aught 
Of  evil  fortune  that  befalls  their  lords 
Is  a  calamity  :  but  such  a  pitch 
Of  grief  am  I  arrived  at,  that  I  felt 
An  impulse  which  constrained  me  to  come  forth 
From  these  abodes,  and  to  the  conscious  earth 
And  heaven  proclaim  the  lost  Medea's  fate. 

Att.  Cease  not  the  plaints  of  that  unhappy  dame  .'' 

NUR.  Your  ignorance  I  envy  :  for  her  woes 
Are  but  beginning,  nor  have  yet  attained 
Their  mid  career. 

Att.  O  how  devoid  of  reason, 

If  we  with  tfrms  thus  harsh  may  brand  our  lords, 
Of  ills  more  recent  nothing  yet  she  knows, 

NuR.  Old  man,  what  mean  you  1     Scruple  not  to  speak. 

At'J'.  Nouglit.     What  I  have  already  said  repents  me. 

NuR.  I  by  that  beard  conjure  you  not  to  hide 
The  secret  from  your  faithful  fellow-servant. 
For  I  the  strictest  silence  will  observe 
If  it  be  needful. 

Att.  Some  one  I  o'erheard 

(Appearing  not  to  listen,  as  I  came 
Where  aged  men  sit  near  Pirene's  fount 
And  hurl  their  dice)  say  that  from  Corinth's  land 
Creon,  the  lord  of  these  domains,  will  banish 
The  children  with  their  mother  ;  but  I  know  not 
Whether  th'  intelligence  be  true,  and  wish 
It  may  prove  otherwise.  ' 

NuR.  Will  Jason  brook 


Sucii  an  injurious  treatment  of  his  sons, 
Although  he  be  at  variance  with  their  mother  ? 

Att.  By  new  connections  are  all  former  ties 
Dissolved,  and  he  no  longer  is  a  friend 
To  this  neglected  race. 

N  UR.  We  shall  be  plunged 

In  utter  ruin,  if  to  our  old  woes, 
Yet  unexhausted,  any  fresh  we  add. 

Att.  Be  silent,  and  suppress  the  dismal  tale, 
For  'tis  unfit  our  royal  mistress  know. 

NUR.  Hear,  O  ye  children,  how  your  father's  soul 
Is  turned  against  you  :  still,  that  he  may  perish 
I  do  not  pray,  because  he  is  my  lord  ; 
Yet  treacherous  to  his  friends  hath  he  been  found. 

Att.  Who  is  not  treacherous  ?     Hast  thou  lived  so  long 
Without  discerning  how  self-love  prevails 
O'er  social .?    Some  by  glory,  some  by  gain, 
Are  prompted.     Then  what  wonder,  for  the  sake 
Of  a  new  consort,  if  the  father  slight 
These  children  ? 

NuR.  Go,  all  will  be  well,  go  in. 

Keep  them  as  far  as  possible  away. 
Nor  suffer  them  to  come  into  the  presence 
Of  their  afflicted  mother ;  for  her  eyes 
Have  I  just  seen  with  wild  distraction  fired. 
As  if  some  horrid  purpose  against  them 
She  meant  to  execute  ;  her  wrath  I  know 
Will  not  be  pacified,  till  on  some  victim 
It  like  a  thunderbolt  from  Heaven  descends ; 
May  she  assail  her  foes  alone,  nor  aim 
The  stroke  at  those  she  ought  to  hold  most  dear. 

Med.  \within.']  Ah  me  !   how  grievous  are  my  woes  !     What 
Can  I  devise  to  end  this  hated  life  ?  [means 

NuR.  'Tis  as  I  said  :  strong  agitations  seize 
Your  mother's  heart,  her  choler's  raised.     Dear  children, 
Beneath  these  roofs  hie  instantly,  nor  come 
Into  her  sight,  accost  her  not,  beware 
Of  these  ferocious  manners  and  the  rage 
Which  boils  in  that  ungovernable  spirit. 

MEDEA.  113 

Go  with  the  utmost  speed,  for  I  perceive 

Too  clearly  that  her  plaints,  which  in  thick  clouds 

Arise  at  first,  will  kindle  ere  'tis  long 

With  tenfold  violence.     What  deeds  of  horror 

From  that  high-soaring,  that  remorseless  soul, 

May  we  expect,  when  goaded  by  despair  ! 

{^Exeunt  Attendant  and  Sons. 

Med.  [within.']  I  have  endured,  alas  !  I  have  endured — 
Wretch  that  I  am  ! — such  agonies  as  call 
For  loudest  plaints.     Ye  execrable  sons 
Of  a  devoted  mother,  perish  ye 
With  your  false  sire,  and  perish  his  whole  house  ! 

NUR.  Why  should  the  sons — ah,  wretched  me! — partake 
Their  father's  i;uilt  ?     Why  hat'st  thou  th-  m  ?     Ah  me  ! 
How  greatly,  O  ye  children,  do  I  fear 
Lest  mischief  should  befall  you  :  for  the  souls 
Of  kings  are  prone  to  cruelty,  so  seldom 
Subdued,  and  over  others  wont  to  rule, 
That  it  is  difficult  for  such  to  change 
Their  angry  purpose.     Happier  I  esteem 
The  lot  of  those  who  still  are  wont  to  live 
Among  their  equals.     May  I  thus  grow  old, 
If  not  in  splendour,  yet  with  safety  blest  ! 
For  first  of  all,  renown  attends  the  name 
Of  mediocrity,  and  to  mankind 
Such  station  is  more  useful :  but  not  long 
Can  the  extremes  of  grandeur  ever  last  ; 
And  heavier  are  the  curses  which  it  brings 
When  Fortune  visits  us  in  all  her  wrath. 

Chorus,  Nurse. 

Chor.  The  voice  of  Colchos'  hapless  dame  I  heard — 
A  clamorous  voice,  nor  yet  is  she  appeased. 
Speak,  O  thou  aged  matron,  for  her  cries 
1  from  the  innermost  apartment  heard  ; 
Nor  can  I  triumph  in  the  woes  with  which 
This  house  is  visited  ;  for  to  my  soul 
Dear  are  its  interests. 

NUR.  This  whole  house  is  plunged 

114  EURIPIDES.  \ 

In  iTiin,  and  its  interests  are  no  more. 
While  Corinth's  palace  to  our  lord  affords 
A  residence,  within  her  chamber  pines 
My  mistress,  and  the  counsels  of  her  friends 
Afford  no  comfort  to  her  tortured  soul. 

Med.  [jzutthin.']  O  that  a  flaming  thunderbolt  from  Heaven 
Would  pierce  this  brain !  for  what  can  longer  life 
To  me  avail .''     Fain  would  I  seek  repose 
In  death,  and  cast  away  this  hated  being. 

Chor.  Heard'st  thou,  all-righteous  Jove,  thou  fostering  cirth, 
And  thou,  O  radiant  lamp  of  day,  what  plaints, 
What  clamorous  plaints  this  miserable  wife 
Hath  uttered  ?     Through  insatiable  desire, 
Ah  why  would  you  precipitate  your  death  ? 
O  most  unwise  !     These  imprecations  spare. 
What  if  your  lord's  affections  are  engaged 
By  a  new  bride,  reproach  him  not,  for  Jove 
Will  be  the  dread  avenger  of  your  wrongs  ; 
Nor  melt  away  with  unavailing  grief, 
Weeping  for  the  lost  partner  of  your  bed. 

Med.  [wtihin.']  Great  Themis  and  Diana,  awful  queen, 
Do  ye  behold  the  insults  I  endure, 
Though  by  each  oath  most  holy  I  have  bound 
That  execrable  husband.     May  I  see 
Him  and  his  bride,  torn  limb  from  limb,  bestrew 
The  palace  ;  me  have  they  presumed  to  wrong. 
Although  I  ne'er  provoked  them.     O  my  sire, 
And  thou  my  native  land,  whence  I  with  shame 
Departed  when  my  brother  I  had  slain. 

NUR.  Heard  ye  not  all  she  said,  with  a  loud  voice 
Invoking  Themis,  who  fulfils  the  vow. 
And  Jove,  to  whom  the  tribes  of  men  look  up 
As  guardian  of  their  oaths.     Medea's  rage 
Can  by  no  trivial  vengeance  be  appeased. 

Chor.  Could  we  but  draw  her  hither,  and  prevail 
On  her  to  hear  the  counsels  we  suggest, 
Then  haply  might  she  check  that  bitter  wrath. 
That  vehemence  of  temper  ;  for  my  zeal 
Shall  not  be  spared  to  aid  my  friends.     But  go, 

MEDEA.  115 

And  say,  *'  O  hasten,  ere  to  those  within 
Tiiou  do  some  mischief,  for  these  sorrows  rush 
With  an  impetuous  tempest  on  thy  soul." 

NUR.  This  will  I  do  ;  though  there  is  cause  to  fear 
That  on  my  mistress  I  shall  ne'er  prevail : 
Yet  I  my  labour  gladly  will  bestow. 
Though  such  a  look  she  on  her  servants  casts 
As  the  ferocious  lioness  who  guards 
Her  tender  young,  when  any  one  draws  near 
To  speak  to  her.     Thou  wouldst  not  judge  amiss, 
In  charging  folly  and  a  total  want 
Of  wisdom  on  the  men  of  ancient  days, 
Who  for  their  festivals  invented  hymns. 
And  to  the  banquet  and  the  genial  board 
Confined  those  accents  which  o'er  human  life 
Diffuse  ecstatic  pleasures  :  but  no  artist 
Hath  yet  discovered,  by  the  tuneful  song, 
And  varied  modulations  of  the  lyre, 
How  we  those  piercing  sorrows  may  assuage 
Whence  slaughters  and  such  horrid  mischiefs  spring 
As  many  a  prosperous  mansion  have  o'erthrown. 
Could  music  interpose  her  healing  aid 
In  these  inveterate  maladies,  such  gift 
Had  been  the  first  of  blessings  to  mankind  : 
But,  'midst  choice  viands  and  the  circling  bowl, 
Why  should  those  minstrels  strain  their  useless  throat } 
To  cheer  the  drooping  heart,  convivial  joys 
Are  in  themselves  sufficient.  \^Exit  NURSE. 

Chor.  Mingled  groans 

And  lamentations  burst  upon  mine  ear  : 
She  in  the  bitterness  of  soul  exclaims 
Against  her  impious  husband,  who  betrayed 
His  plighted  faith.     By  grievous  wrongs  opprest, 
She  the  vindictive  gods  invokes,  and  Themis, 
Jove's  daughter,  guardian  of  the  sacred  oath, 
Who  o'er  the  waves  to  Greece  benignly  steered  % 

Their  bark  adventurous,  launched  in  midnight  gloom, 
Through  ocean's  gates  which  never  can  be  closed  ! 


Medea,  Chorus. 

Med.  From  my  apartment,  ye  Corinthian  dames, 
Lest  ye  my  conduct  censure,  I  come  forth  : 
For  I  have  known  full  many  who  obtained 
Fame  and  high  rank  ;  some  to  the  public  gaze 
Stood  ever  forth,  while  others,  in  a  sphere 
More  distant,  chose  their  merits  to  display  : 
Nor  yet  a  few,  who,  studious  of  repose, 
Have  with  malignant  obloquy  been  called 
Devoid  of  spirit :  for  no  human  eyes 
Can  form  a  just  discernment ;  at  one  glance. 
Before  the  inmost  secrets  of  the  heart 
Are  clearly  known,  a  bitter  hate  'gainst  him 
Who  never  wronged  us  they  too  oft  inspire. 
But  'tis  a  stranger's  duty  to  adopt 
The  manners  of  the  land  in  which  he  dwells  ; 
Nor  can  I  praise  that  native,  led  astray 
By  mere  perverseness  and  o'erweening  folly, 
Who  bitter  enmity  incurs  from  those 
Of  his  own  city.     But,  alas  !  my  friends, 
This  unforeseen  calamity  hath  withered 
The  vigour  of  my  soul.     I  am  undone. 
Bereft  of  every  joy  that  life  can  yield, 
And  therefore  wish  to  die.     For  as  to  him. 
My  husband,  whom  it  did  import  me  most 
To  have  a  thorough  knowledge  of,  he  proves 
The  worst  of  men.     But  sure  among  all  those 
Who  have  with  breath  rnd  renson  been  endued, 
We  women  are  the  most  unhappy  race. 
First,  with  abundant  gold  are  we  constrained 
To  buy  a  husband,  nnd  in  him  receive 
A  haughty  mas'er.     Still  doth  there  remain 
One  mischief  than  this  mischief  yet  more  grievous. 
The  hazard  whether  we  procure  a  mate 
Worthless  or  virtuous  :  for  divorces  bring 
Reproach  to  woman,  nor  must  she  renounce 
The  man  she  wedded  ;  as  for  her  who  comes 
Where  usages  and  edicts,  which  at  home 

MEDEA.  117 

She  learnt  not,  are  established,  she  the  gift 

Of  divination  needs  to  teach  her  how 

A  husband  must  be  chosen  :  if  aright 

These  duties  we  perforin,  and  he  the  yoke 

Of  wedlock  with  complacency  sustains, 

Ours  is  a  happy  life  ;  but  if  we  fail 

In  this  great  object,  better  'twere  to  die. 

For,  when  afiflicted  by  domestic  ills, 

A  man  goes  forth,  his  choler  to  appease, 

And  to  some  friend  or  comrade  can  reveal 

What  he  endures  ;  but  we  to  him  alone 

For  succour  must  look  up.     They  still  contend 

That  we,  at  home  remaining,  lead  a  life 

Exempt  from  danger,  while  they  launch  the  spear  : 

False  are  these  judgments  ;  rather  would  I  thrice, 

Armed  with  a  target,  in  th'  embattled  field 

Maintain  my  stand,  than  suffer  once  the  throes 

Of  childbirth.     But  this  language  suits  not  you  ; 

This  is  your  native  city,  the  abode 

Of  your  loved  parents,  every  comfort  life 

Can  furnish  is  at  hand,  and  with  your  friends 

You  here  converse  :  but  I,  forlorn,  and  left 

Without  a  home,  am  by  that  husband  scorned 

Who  carried  me  from  a  Barbarian  realm. 

Nor  mother,  brother,  or  relation  now 

Have  I,  to  whom  I  'midst  these  storms  of  woe, 

Like  an  auspicious  haven,  can  repair. 

Thus  far  I  therefore  crave  ye  will  espouse 

My  interests,  as  if  haply  any  means 

Or  any  stratagem  can  be  devi-sed 

For  me  with  justice  to  avenge  these  wrongs 

On  my  perfidious  husband,  on  the  king 

Who  to  that  husband's  arms  his  daughter  gave, 

And  the  new-wedded  princess  ;  to  observe 

Strict  silence.     For  although  at  other  times 

A  woman,  filled  with  terror,  is  unfit 

For  battle,  or  to  face  the  lifted  sword, 

She  when  her  soul  by  marriage  wrongs  is  fired. 

Thirsts  with  a  rage  unparalleled  for  blood. 


Chor.  The  silence  you  request  I  will  observe, 
For  justly  on  your  lord  may  you  inflict 
Severest  vengeance  :  still  I  wonder  not 
If  your  disastrous  fortunes  you  bewail : 
But  Creon  I  behold  who  wields  the  sceptre 
Of  these  domains  ;  the  monarch  hither  comes 
His  fresh  resolves  in  person  to  declare. 

Creon,  Medea,  Chorus. 

Cre.  Thee,  O  Medea,  who,  beneath  those  looks 
Stern  and  forbidding,  harbour'st  'gainst  thy  lord 
Resentment,  I  command  to  leave  these  realms 
An  exile  ;  for  companions  of  thy  flight 
Take  both  thy  children  with  thee,  nor  delay. 
Myself  pronounce  this  edict :  I  my  home 
Will  not  revisit,  from  the  utmost  bounds 
Of  this  domain,  till  I  have  cast  thee  forth. 

Med.  Ah,  wretched  me  !  I  utterly  am  ruined : 
For  in  the  swift  pursuit,  my  ruthless  foes, 
Each  cable  loosing,  have  unfurled  their  sails, 
Nor  can  I  land  on  any  friendly  shore 
To  save  myself,  yet  am  resolved  to  speak, 
Though  punishment  impend.     What  cause,  O  Creon 
Have  you  for  banishing  me  ? 

Cre.  Thee  I  dread 

(No  longer  is  it  needful  to  disguise 
My  thoughts)  lest  'gainst  my  daughter  thou  contrive 
Some  evil  such  as  medicine  cannot  reach. 
Full  many  incidents  conspire  to  raise 
This  apprehension  :  with  a  deep-laid  craft 
Art  thou  endued,  expert  in  the  device 
Of  mischiefs  numberless,  thou  also  griev'st 
Since  thou  art  severed  from  thy  husband's  bed. 
I  am  informed,  too,  thou  hast  menaced  vengeance 
'Gainst  me,  because  my  daughter  I  bestowed 
In  marriage,  and  the  bridegroom,  and  his  bride. 
Against  these  threats  I  therefore  ought  to  guard 
Before  they  take  effect ;  and  better  far 
Is  it  for  me,  O  woman,  to  incur 

MEDEA.  119 

Thy  hatred  now,  than,  soothed  by  thy  mild  words, 
Hereafter  my  forbearance  to  bewail. 

Med.  Not  now,  alas  !  for  the  first  time,  but  oft 
To  me,  O  Creon,  hath  opinion  proved 
Most  baleful,  and  the  source  of  grievous  woes. 
Nor  ever  ought  the  man,  who  is  possest 
Of  a  sound  judgment,  to  train  up  his  children 
To  be  too  wise  :  for  they  who  live  exempt 
From  war  and  all  its  toils,  the  odious  name 
Among  their  fellow-citizens  acquire 
Of  abject  sluggards.     If  to  the  unwise 
You  some  fresh  doctrine  broach,  you  are  esteemed 
Not  sapient,  but  a  trifler  :  when  to  those 
Who  in  their  own  conceit  possess  each  branch 
Of  knowledge,  you  in  state  affairs  obtain 
Superior  fame,  to  them  you  grow  obnoxious. 
I  also  feel  the  grievance  I  lament ; 
Some  envy  my  attainments,  otliers  think 
My  temper  uncomplying,  thougli  my  wisdom 
Is  not  tianscendent.     But  from  me  it  seems 
You  apprehend  some  violence  ;  dismiss 
Those  fears  ;  my  situation  now  is  such, 
O  Creon,  that  to  monarchs  I  can  give 
No  umbrage  :  and  in  what  respect  have  you 
Treated  me  with  injustice  .''     You  bestowed 
Your  daughter  where  your  inclination  led. 
Though  I  abhor  my  husband,  I  suppose 
That  you  have  acted  wisely,  nor  repine 
At  your  prosperity.     Conclude  the  match  ; 
Be  happy  :  but  allow  me  in  this  land 
Yet  to  reside ;  for  I  my  wrongs  will  bear 
In  silence,  and  to  my  superiors  yield. 

Cre.  Soft  is  the  sound  of  thy  persuasive  words, 
But  in  my  soul  I  feel  the  strongest  dread 
Lest  thou  devise  some  mischief,  and  now  less 
Than  ever  can  I  trust  thee  ;  for  'gainst  those 
Of  hasty  tempers  with  more  ease  we  guard, 
Or  men  or  women,  than  the  silent  foe 
Who  acts  with  prudence.     Therefore  be  thou  gone 


With  speed,  no  answer  make  :  it  is  decreed, 
Nor  hast  thou  art  sufficient  to  avert 
Thy  doom  of  banishment ;  for  well  aware 
Am  I  thou  hat'st  me. 

Med.  Spare  me,  by  those  knee 5 

And  your  new-wedded  daughter,  I  implore. 

Cre.  Lavish  of  words,  thou  never  shall  persuade  me. 

Med,  Will  you  then  drive  me  hence,  and  to  my  prayers 
No  reverence  yield } 

Cre.  I  do  not  love  thee  more 

Than  those  of  my  own  house. 

Med.  With  what  regret 

Do  I  remember  thee,  my  native  land  ! 

Cre.  Except  my  children,  I  hold  nought  so  dear. 

Med.  To  mortals  what  a  dreadful  scourge  is  love  I 

Cre.  As  fortune  dictates,  love  becomes,  I  ween, 
Either  a  curse  or  blessing. 

Med,  Righteous  Jove, 

Let  not  the  author  of  my  woes  escape  thee. 

Cre.  Away,  vain  woman,  free  me  from  my  cares, 

Med,  No  lack  of  cares  have  L 

Cre,  Thou  from  this  spot 

Shalt  by  my  servants'  hands  ere  long  be  torn. 

Med.  Not  thus,  O  Creon,  I  your  mercy  crave. 

Cre,  To  trouble  me,  it  seems,  thou  art  resolved. 

Med,  I  will  depart,  nor  urge  this  fond  request. 

Cre.  Why  dost  thou  struggle  then,  nor  from  our  realm 
Withdraw  thyself? 

Med,  Allow  me  this  one  day 

Here  to  remain,  till  my  maturer  thoughts 
Instruct  me  to  what  region  I  can  fly. 
Where  for  my  sons  find  shelter,  since  their  sire 
Attends  not  to  the  welfare  of  his  race. 
Take  pity  on  them,  for  you  also  know 
What  'tis  to  be  a  parent,  and  nmst  feel 
Parental  love  :  as  for  myself,  I  heed  not 
The  being  doomed  to  exile,  but  lament 
Their  hapless  fortunes. 

Cre.  No  tyrannic  rage 

MEDEA.  lai 

Within  this  bosom  dwells,  but  pity  oft 

Hath  warped  my  better  judgment,  and  though  now 

My  error  I  perceive,  shall  thy  bequest 

Be  granted.     Yet  of  this  must  I  forewarn  thee : 

If  when  to-morrow  with  his  orient  beams 

Phoebus  the  world  revisits,  he  shall  view 

Thee  and  thy  children  still  within  the  bounds 

Of  these  domains,  thou  certainly  shalt  die — 

Th'  irrevocable  sentence  is  pronounced. 

But  if  thou  needs  must  tarry,  tarry  here 

This  single  day,  for  in  so  short  a  space 

Thou  canst  not  execute  the  ills  I  dread.       \^Exit  Creon. 

Chor.  Alas  !  thou  wretched  woman,  overpowered 
By  thy  afflictions,  whither  wilt  thou  turn  ? 
What  hospitable  boird,  what  mansion,  find. 
Or  country  to  protect  thee  from  these  ills  ? 
Into  what  storms  of  misery  have  the  gods 
Caused  ihee  to  rush ! 

Med.  On  every  side  distress 

Assails  me  :  who  can  contradict  this  truth .'' 
Yet  think  not  that  my  sorrows  thus  shall  end. 
By  yon  new-wedded  pair  must  be  sustained 
Dire  conflicts,  and  no  light  or  trivial  woes 
By  them  who  in  affinity  are  joined 
With  this  devoted  house.     Can  ye  suppose 
That  I  would  e'er  have  soothed  him,  had  no  gain 
Or  stratagem  induced  me  "i     Else  to  him 
Never  would  I  have  spoken,  nor  once  raised 
My  suppliant  hands.     But  now_  is  he  so  lost 
In  folly,  that,  when  all  my  schemes  with  ease 
He  might  have  baffled,  if  he  from  this  land 
Had  cast  me  forth,  he  grants  me  to  remain 
For  this  one  day,  and  ere  the  setting  sun 
Three  of  my  foes  will  I  destroy — the  sire, 
The  daughter,  and  my  husband  :  various  means 
Have  1  of  slaying  them,  and,  O  my  friends. 
Am  at  a  loss  to  fix  on  which  I  first 
Shall  undertake,  or  to  consume  with  flames 
The  bridal  mansion,  or  a  dagger  plunge 


Into  their  bosoms,  entering  unperceived 

The  chamber  where  they  sleep,     But  there  remains 

One  danger  to  obstruct  my  path  :  if  caught 

SteaUng  into  the  palace,  and  intent 

On  such  emprise,  in  death  shall  I  afford 

A  subject  of  derision  to  my  foes. 

This  obvious  method  were  the  best,  in  which 

I  am  most  skilled,  to  take  their  lives  away 

By  sorceries.     Be  it  so  ;  suppose  them  dead. 

What  city  will  receive  me  for  its  guest, 

What  hospitable  foreigner  afford 

A  shelter  in  his,  or  to  his  hearth 

Admit,  or  snatch  me  from  impending  fate  ? 

Alas  !  I  have  no  friend.     I  will  delay 

A  little  longer  therefore  ;  if  perchance. 

To  screen  me  from  destruction,  I  can  find 

Some  fortress,  then  I  in  this  deed  of  blood 

With  artifice  and  silence  will  engage  ; 

But,  if  by  woes  inextricable  urged 

Too  closely,  snatching  up  the  dagger  them 

Am  I  resolved  to  slay,  although  myself 

Must  perish  too  ;  for  courage  unappalled 

This  bosom  animates.     By  that  dread  queen, 

By  her  wliom  first  of  nil  th'  immortal  powers 

I  worship,  and  to  aid  my  bold  emprise 

Have  chosen,  the  thrice  awful  Hecatd, 

Who  in  my  innermost  apartment  dwells. 

Not  one  of  them  shall  triumph  in  the  pangs 

With  which  they  wound  my  heart ;  for  I  will  render 

This  spousal  rite  to  them  a  plenteous  source 

Of  bitterness  and  mourning— they  shall  rue 

Their  union,  rue  my  exile  from  this  land. 

But  now  come  on,  nor,  O  Medea,  spare 

Thy  utmost  science  to  devise  and  frnme 

Deep  stratagems,  witli  swift  career  advance 

To  deeds  of  horror.     Such  a  strife  demands 

Thy  utmost  courage.     Hast  thou  any  sense 

Of  these  indignities .''     Nor  is  it  fit 

That  thou,  who  spring'st  from  an  illustrious  sire. 

MEDEA.  123 

And  from  that  great  progenitor  the  sun, 
Shouldst  be  derided  by  the  impious  brood 
Of  Sisyphus,  at  Jason  s  nuptial  feast 
Exposed  to  scorn  :  for  thou  hast  ample  skill 
To  right  thyself.     Although  by  Nature  formed 
Without  a  genius  apt  for  virtuous  deeds, 
We  women  are  in  mischiefs  most  expert. 



I.  I. 

Now  upward  to  their  source  the  rivers  flow, 
And  in  a  retrogade  career 

Justice  and  all  the  baffled  virtues  go. 
The  views  of  man  are  insincere, 
Nor  to  the  gods  though  he  appeal, 
And  with  an  oath  each  promise  seal, 

Can  he  be  trusted.     Yet  doih  veering  fame 
Loudly  assert  the  female  claim, 
Causing  our  sex  to  be  renowned, 
And  our  whole  lives  with  glory  crowned. 
No  longer  shall  we  mourn  the  wrongs 
Of  slanderous  and  inhuman  tongues. 

I.  2. 

Nor  shall  the  Muses,  as  in  ancient  days, 
Make  the  deceit  of  womankind 

The  constant  theme  of  their  malignant  lays. 
For  ne'er  on  our  uncultured  mind 
Hath  Phoebus,  god  of  verse,  bestowed 
Genius  to  frame  the  lofty  ode ; 

Else  had  we  waked  the  lyre,  and  in  reply 
With  descants  on  man's  infamy 
Oft  lengthened  out  th'  opprobrious  page. 
Yet  may  we  from  each  distant  age 
Collect  such  records  as  disgrace 
Both  us  and  man's  imperious  race. 


II.  I. 

By  love  distracted,  from  ihy  native  strand, 
Thou  'twixt  the  ocean's  c'ashing  locks  didst  sail 
But  now,  loathed  inmate  of  a  foreign  land, 
Thy  treacherous  husband's  loss  art  doomed  to  wail, 
O  hapless  matron,  overwhelmed  with  woe, 
From  this  unpitying  realm  dishonoured  must  thou  go. 

II.    2. 

No  longer  sacred  oaths  their  credit  bear, 
And  virtuous  shame  hath  left  the  Grecian  plain, 
She  mounts  to  Heaven,  and  breathes  a  purer  air. 
For  thee  doth  no  paternal  house  remain 
The  sheltering  haven  from  affliction's  tides  ; 
Over  these  hostile  roofs  a  mightier  queen  presides. 

Jason,  Medea,  Chorus. 

Jas.  Not  now  for  the  first  time,  but  oft,  full  oft 
Have  I  observed  that  anger  is  a  pest 
The  most  unruly.     For  when  in  this  land. 
These  mansions,  you  in  peace  might  have  abode, 
By  patiently  submitting  to  the  will 
Of  your  superiors,  you,  for  empty  words. 
Are  doomed  to  exile.     Not  that  I  regard 
Your  calling  Jason  with  incessant  rage 
The  worst  of  men  ;  but  for  those  bitter  taunts 
With  which  you  have  reviled  a  mighty  king, 
Too  mild  a  penalty  may  you  esteem 
Such  banishment.     I  still  have  soothed  the  wrath 
Of  the  offended  monarch,  still  have  wished 
That  you  might  here  continue  ;  but  no  bounds 
Your  folly  knows,  nor  can  that  tongue  e'er  cease 
To  utter  menaces  against  your  lords  ; 
Hence  from  these  regions  justly  are  you  doomed 
To  be  cast  forth.     But  with  unwearied  love 
Attentive  to  your  interest  nm  I  come, 
Lest  with  your  children  you  by  cruel  want 
Should  be  encompassed  ;  exile  with  it  brings 

MEDEA.  125 

Full  many  evils.     Me,  though  you  abhor, 
To  you  I  harbour  no  unfriendly  thought. 

Med.  Thou  worst  of  villains  (for  this  bitter  charge 
Against  thy  abject  cowardice  my  tongue 
May  justly  urge),  com'st  thou  to  me,  O  wretch, 
Who  to  the  gods  art  odious,  and  to  me 
And  all  the  human  race  ?     It  is  no  proof 
Of  courage,  or  of  steadf.nstness,  to  face 
Thy  injured  friends,  but  impudence,  the  worst 
Of  all  diseases.     Yet  hast  thou  done  well 
In  coming:  I  by  uttering  the  reproaches 
Which  thou  shall  ease  my  burdened  soul. 
And  thou  wilt  grieve  to  hear  them.     With  th'  events 
Which  happened  first  will  I  begin  my  charge. 
Each  Grecian  chief  who  in  the  Argo  sailed 
Knows  how  from  death  I  saved  thee,  when  to  yoke 
The  raging  bulls  whose  nostrils  poured  forth  flames, 
And  sow  the  baleful  harvest,  thou  wert  sent : 
Then  having  slain  the  dragon,  who  preserved 
With  many  a  scaly  fold  the  golden  fleece. 
Nor  ever  closed  in  sleep  his  watchful  eyes, 
I  caused  the  morn  with  its  auspicious  beams 
To  shine  on  thy  deliverance ;  but,  my  sire 
And  native  land  betraying,  came  with  thee 
To  Pelion,  and  lolcbos'  gates  :  for  love 
Prevailed  o'er  reason.     Pelias  next  I  slew — 
Mc'St  wretched  death — by  his  own  daughters'  hands. 
And  thus  delivered  thee  from  all  thy  fears. 
Yet  though  to  me,  O  most  ungrateful  man, 
Thus  much  indebted,  hast  thou  proved  a  traitor, 
And  to  the  arms  of  this  new  consort  fled. 
Although  a  rising  progeny  is  thine. 
Hadst  thou  been  childless,  'twere  a  venial  fault 
In  thee  to  court  another  for  thy  bride. 
But  vanished  is  the  faith  which  oaths  erst  bore, 
Nor  can  I  judge  whether  thou  think'st  the  gods 
Who  ruled  the  world  have  lost  their  ancient  power 
Or  that  fresh  laws  at  present  are  in  force 
Among  mankind,  because  thou  to  thyself 


Art  conscious,  thou  thy  plighted  faith  hast  broken. 

O  my  right  hand,  which  thou  didst  oft  embrace, 

Oft  to  these  knees  a  suppliant  cling  !     How  vainly 

Did  I  my  virgin  purity  yield  up 

To  a  perfidious  husband,  led  astray 

By  flattering  hopes  !     Yet  I  to  thee  will  speak 

As  if  thou  wert  a  friend,  and  I  expected 

From  thee  some  mighty  favour  to  obtain : 

Yet  thou,  if  strictly  questioned,  must  appear 

More  odious.     Whither  shall  I  turn  me  now  ? 

To  those  deserted  mansions  of  my  father. 

Which,  with  my  country,  I  to  thee  betrayed, 

And  hither  came ;  or  to  the  wretched  daughters 

Of  Pelias  ?    They  forsooth,  whose  sire  I  slew. 

Beneath  their  roofs  with  kindness  would  receive  me. 

'Tis  even  thus  :  by  those  of  my  own  house 

Am  I  detested,  and,  to  serve  thy  cause, 

Those  very  friends,  whom  least  of  all  I  ought 

To  have  unkindly  treated,  have  I  made 

My  enemies.     But  eager  to  reay 

Such  favours,  'mongst  unnumbered  Grecian  dames, 

On  me  superior  bliss  hast  thou  bestowed. 

And  !.  unhappy  woman,  find  in  thee 

A  husband  who  deserves  to  be  admired 

For  his  fidelity.     But  from  this  realm 

When  I  am  exiled,  and  by  every  friend 

Deserted,  with  my  children  left  forlorn, 

A  glorious  triumph,  in  thy  bridal  hour, 

To  thee  will  it  afford,  if  those  thy  sons. 

And  I  who  saved  thee,  should  like  vagrants  roam. 

Wherefore,  O  Jove,  didst  thou  instruct  mankind 

How  to  distinguish  by  undoubted  marks 

Counterfeit  gold,  yet  in  the  front  of  vice 

Impress  no  brand  to  show  the  tainted  heart? 

Chor.  How  sharp  their  wrath,  how  hard  to  be  appeased, 
When  friends  with  friends  begin  the  cruel  strife. 

Jas.  I  ought  not  to  be  rash,  it  seems,  in  speech, 
But  like  the  skilful  pilot,  who,  with  snils 
Scarce  half  unfurled,  his  bark  more  surely  guides, 

MEDEA.  12J' 

Escape,  O  woman,  your  ungovemed  tongue. 

Since  you  the  benefits  on  me  conferred 

Exaggerate  in  so  proud  a  strain,  I  deem 

That  I  to  Venus  only,  and  no  god 

Or  man  beside,  my  prosperous  voyage  owe. 

Although  a  wondrous  subtlety  of  soul 

To  you  belong,  'twere  an  invidious  speech 

For  me  to  make  should  I  relate  how  Love 

By  his  inevitable  shafts  constrained  you 

To  save  n;y  life.     I  will  not  therefore  state 

This  argument  too  nicely,  but  allow, 

As  you  did  aid  me,  it  was  kindly  done. 

But  by  preserving  me  have  you  gained  more 

Than  you  bestowed,  as  I  shall  prove  :  and  first, 

Transplanted  from  barbaric  shores,  you  dwell 

In  Grecian  regions,  and  have  here  been  taught 

To  act  as  justice  and  the  laws  ordain. 

Nor  follow  the  caprice  of  brutal  strength. 

By  all  the  Greeks  your  wisdom  is  perceived. 

And  you  acquire  renown  ;  but  had  you  still 

Inhabited  that  distant  spot  of  earth. 

You  never  had  been  named.     I  would  not  wish 

For  mansions  heaped  with  gold,  or  to  exceed 

The  sweetest  notes  of  Orpheus'  magic  lyre, 

Were  those  unfading  wreaths  which  fame  bestows 

From  me  withheld  by  fortune.     I  thus  far 

On  my  own  labours  only  have  discoursed. 

For  you  this  odious  strife  of  words  began. 

But  in  es]30using  Creon's  royal  daughter, 

With  \\hich  you  have  reproached  me,  I  will  prove 

That  I  in  acting  thus  am  wise  and  chaste, 

That  I  to  you  have  been  the  best  of  friends, 

And  to  our  children.     But  make  no  reply. 

Since  hither  from  lolchos'  land  I  came, 

Accompanied  by  many  woes,  and  such 

As  could  not  be  avoided,  what  device 

More  advantageous  could  an  exile  frame 

Than  wedding  the  king's  daughter  ?     Not  through  hate 

To  you,  which  you  reproach  me  with,  not  smitten 


With  love  for  a  new  consort,  or  a  wish 

The  number  of  my  children  to  augment : 

For  those  we  have  already  might  suffice, 

And  I  complain  not.     But  to  me  it  seemed 

Of  great  importance  that  we  both  might  live 

As  suits  our  rank,  nor  suffer  abject  need, 

Well  knowing  taht  each  friend  avoids  the  poor. 

I  also  wished  to  educate  our  sons 

In  such  a  manner  as  befits  my  race 

And  with  their  noble  brothers  yet  unborn, 

Make  them  one  family,  that  thus,  my  liouse 

Cementing,  1  might  prosper.     In  some  measure 

Is  it  your  interest  too  that  by  my  bride 

I  should  have  sons,  and  me  it  much  imports, 

By  future  children,  to  provide  for  those 

Who  are  in  being.     Have  I  judged  amiss  1 

You  would  not  censure  me,  unless  your  soul 

Were  by  a  rival  stung.     But  your  whole  sex 

Hath  these  ideas  ;  if  in  man-iage  blest 

Ye  deem  nought  wanting,  but  if  some  reverse 

Of  fortune  e'er  betide  the  nuptial  couch. 

All  that  was  good  and  lovely  ye  abhor. 

Far  better  were  it  for  the  human  race 

Had  children  been  produced  by  other  means. 

No  females  e'er  existing  :  hence  might  man 

Exempt  from  every  evil  have  remained. 

Chor.  Thy  words  hast  thou  with  specious  art  adorned, 
Yet  thou  to  me  (it  is  against  my  will 
That  I  such  language  hold),  O  Jason,  seem'st 
Not  to  have  acted  justly  in  betraying 
Thy  consort. 

Med.  From  the  many  I  dissent 

In  many  points  :  for,  in  my  judgment,  he 
Who  tramples  on  the  laws,  but  can  express 
His  thoughts  with  plausibility,  deserves 
Severest  punishment :  for  that  injustice 
On  which  he  glories,  with  his  artful  tongue. 
That  he  a  fair  appearance  can  bestow, 
He  dares  to  practise,  nor  is  truly  wise. 

MEDEA.  129 

No  longer  then  this  specious  language  hold 
To  me,  who  by  one  word  cnn  strike  thee  dumb. 
Hadst  thou  not  acted  with  a  base  design, 
It  was  thy  duty  first  to  have  prevailed 
On  me  to  give  consent,  ere  these  espousals 
Thou  hadst  contracted,  nor  kept  such  design 
A  secret  from  thy  friends. 

Jas.  You  would  have  ser^-ed 

My  cause  most  gloriously,  had  I  disclosed 
To  you  my  pufposed  nuptials,  when  the  rage 
Of  that  proud  heart  still  unsubdued  remains. 

Med.  Thy  real  motive  was  not  what  thou  sayst, 
But  a  Barbarian  wife,  in  thy  old  age. 
Might  have  appeared  to  tarnish  thy  renown. 

Jas.  Be  well  assured,  love  urged  me  not  to  take 
The  daughter  of  the  monarch  to  my  bed. 
But  'twas  my  wish  to  save  you  from  distress, 
As  I  already  have  declared,  and  raise 
Some  royal  brothers  to  our  former  sons, 
Strengthwiing  with  fresh  supports  our  shattered  house. 

Med.  May  that  prosperity  which  brings  remorse 
Be  never  mine,  nor  riches  such  as  sting 
The  soul  with  anguish. 

Jas.  Are  you  not  aware 

You  soon  will  change  your  mind  and  grow  more  wise? 
Forbear  to  spurn  the  blessings  you  possess, 
Nor  droop  beneath  imaginary  woes, 
When  you  are  happy. 

Med.  Scoff  at  my  distress, 

For  thou  hast  an  asylum  to  receive  thee : 
But  from  this  land  am  I  constrained  to  roam 
A  lonely  exile. 

Jas.  This  was  your  own  choice  : 

Accuse  none  else. 

Med.  What  have  I  done— betrayed 

My  plighted  faith  and  sought  a  foreign  bed  ? 

Jas.  You  uttered  impious  curses  'gainst  the  king. 

Med.   I  nlso  in  thy  mansions  am  accursed. 

Jas.  With  you  I  on  these  subjects  will  contend 



No  longer.     But  speak  freely,  what  relief, 

Or  for  the  children  or  your  exiled  state, 

You  from  my  prosperous  fortunes  would  receive : 

For  with  a  liberal  hand  am  I  inclined 

My  bounties  to  confer,  and  hence  despatch 

Such  tokens,  as  to  hospitable  kindness 

Will  recommend  you.     Woman,  to  refuse 

These  offers  were  mere  folly  ;  from  your  soul 

Banish  resentment,  and  no  trifling  gain 

Will  hence  ensue. 

Med.  No  use  I  of  thy  friends 

Will  make,  nor  aught  accept ;  thy  presents  spare, 
For  nothing  which  the  wicked  man  can  give 
Proves  beneficial. 

J  AS.  I  invoke  the  gods 

To  witness  that  I  gladly  would  supply 
You  and  your  children  with  whate'er  ye  need  : 
But  you  these  favours  loathe,  and  with  disdain 
Repel  your  friends  :  hence  an  increase  of  woe 
Shall  be  your  lot. 

Med.  Be  gone  ;  for  thou,  with  love 

For  thy  young  bride  inflamed,  too  long  remain'st 
Without  the  palace.     Wed  her  ;  though  perhaps 
(Yet  with  submission  to  the  righteous  gods, 
This  I  announce)  such  marriage  thou  mayst  rue. 

[/T.r// Jason. 


I.  I. 
Th'  immoderate  loves  in  their  career, 
Nor  glory  nor  esteem  attends. 
But  when  the  Cyprian  queen  descends 
Benignant  from  her  starry  sphere. 
No  goddess  can  more  justly  claim 

From  man  the  grateful  prayer. 
Thy  wrath,  O  Venus,  still  forbear, 
Nor  at  my  tender  bosom  aim 
That  venomed  arrow,  ever  wont  t'  inspire 
Winged  from  thy  golden  b^w.  the  pangs  of  keen  desire. 

MEDEA,  131 

I.  2. 

May  I  in  modesty  delight, 
Best  present  which  the  gods  can  give, 
Nor  torn  by  jarring  passions  live 
A  prey  to  wrath  and  cankered  spite, 
Still  envious  of  a  rival's  charms, 

Nor  rouse  the  endless  strife 
While  on  my  soul  another  wife 
Impresses  vehement  alarms: 
On  us,  dread  queen,  thy  mildest  influence  shed. 
Thou  who  discern'st  each  crime  that  stains  the  nuptial  bed. 

II.  I, 

My  native  land,  and  dearest  home  ! 
"     May  I  ne'er  know  an  exiled  state. 
Nor  be  it  ever  my  sad  fate 
While  from  thy  well-known  bourn  I  roam, 
My  hopeless  anguish  to  bemoan. 

Rather  let  death,  let  death 
Take  at  that  hour  my  forfeit  breath. 
For  surely  never  was  there  known 
On  earth  a  curse  so  great  ns  to  exceed, 
From  his  loved  country  torn,  the  wretched  exile's  need. 

II.  2. 

These  eyes  attest  tliy  piteous  tale. 
Which  not  from  fame  alone  we  know ; 
But,  O  tliou  royal  dame,  thy  woe 
No  generous  city  doth  bewail. 
Nor  one  among  thy  former  friends. 
Abhorred  by  Heaven  and  earth, 
Perish  the  wretch  devoid  of  worth, 
Engrossed  by  mean  and  selfish  ends, 
Whose  heart  expands  not  those  he  loved  to  aid  ; 
Never  may  I  lament  attachments  tlius  repaid. 

^GEUS,  Medea,  Chorus. 

-£g.  Medea,  hail  !  for  no  man  can  devise 
Terms  more  auspicious  to  accost  his  friends. 
Med.  And  you,  O  son  of  wise  Pandion,  hail 

E  2 


Illustrious  ^.geus.    But  to  these  domains 
Whence  came  you  ? 

■^G.  From  Apollo's  ancient  shrine. 

Med.  But  to  that  centre  of  the  world,  whence  sounds 
Prophetic  issue,  why  did  you  repair  ? 

J^G.  To  question  by  what  means  I  may  obtain 
A  race  of  children. 

Med.  By  the  gods,  inform  me, 

Are  you  still  doomed  to  drag  a  childless  life  ? 

.^G.  Such  is  the  influence  of  some  adverse  demon. 

Med.  Have  you  a  wife,  or  did  you  never  try 
The  nuptial  yoke .'' 

J£.G.  With  wedlock's  sacred  bonds 

I  am  not  unacquainted. 

Med.  On  the  subject 

Of  children,  what  did  Phoebus  say  ? 

&G.  His  words 

Were  such  as  mortals  cannot  comprehend. 

Med.  Am  I  allowed  to  know  the  god's  reply  .'' 

^G.  Thou  surely  art :  such  mystery  to  expound 
There  needs  the  help  of  thy  sagacious  soul. 

Med.  Inform  me  what  the  oracle  pronounced, 
If  I  may  hear  it. 

M.G.  "  The  projecting  foot. 

Thou,  ot  the  vessel  must  not  dare  to  loose  " — 

Med.  Till  you  do  what,  or  to  what  region  come  ? 

itG.  "  Till  thou  return  to  thy  paternal  lares." 

Med.  But  what  are  you  in  need  of,  that  you  steer 
Your  bark  to  Corinth's  shores  ? 

Mg.  A  king,  whose  name 

Is  Pittheus,  o'er  Troezene's  realm  presides. 

Med.  That  most  religious  man,  they  say,  is  son 
Of  Pelops. 

J^G.  I  with  him  would  fain  discuss 

The  god's  prophetic  voice. 

Med.  For  he  is  wise, 

And  in  this  science  long  hath  been  expert. 

J^G.  Dearest  to  me  of  those  with  whom  I  formed 
A  league  of  friendship  in  the  embattled  field. 

MEDEA.  133 

Med.  But,  O  may  you  be  happy,  and  obtain 
All  that  you  wish  for. 

JEg.  Why  those  downcast  eyes, 

That  wasted  form  } 

Med.  O  ^geus,  he  I  wedded 

To  me  hath  proved  of  all  mankind  most  base. 

JEg.  What  mean'st  thou  ?     In  plain  terms  thy  grief  declare. 

Med.  Jason  hath  wronged  me,  though  without  a  cause. 

^G.  Be  more  explicit,  what  injurious  treatment 
Complain'st  thou  of? 

Med.  To  me  hath  he  preferred 

Another  wife,  the  mistress  of  this  house. 

Mg.  Dared  he  to  act  so  basely  ? 

Med.  Be  assured 

That  I,  whom  erst  he  loved,  am  now  forsaken. 

.^G.  What  amorous  passion  triumphs  o'er  his  soul .'' 
Or  doth  he  loathe  thy  bed .'' 

Med.  'Tis  mighty  love. 

That  to  his  first  attachment  makes  him  false. 

^G.  Let  him  depnrt  then,  if  he  be  so  void 
Of  honour  as  thou  sayst. 

Med.  He  sought  to  form 

Alliance  with  a  monarch. 

JEg.  Who  bestows 

On  him  a  royal  bride .?     Conclude  thy  tale. 

Med.  Creon,  the  ruler  of  this  land. 

^G.  Thy  sorrows 

Are  then  excusable. 

Med.  I  am  undone, 

And  banished  hence. 

Mg.  •        By  whom  ?    There's  not  a  word 

Thou  utter'st  but  unfolds  fresh  scenes  of  woe. 

Med.  Me  from  this  realm  to  exile  Creon  drives. 

JEg.  Doth  Jason  suffer  this  ?  I  cannot  praise 
Such  conduct. 

Med.  Not  in  words :  though  he  submits 

Without  reluctance.     But  I  by  that  beard. 
And  by  those  knees,  a  wretched  suppliant,  crave 
Your  pity  ;  see  me  not  cast  forth  forlorn, 


But  to  your  realms  and  to  your  social  hearth 

Receive  me  as  a  guest ;  so  may  your 

For  children  be  accomplished  by  the  gods, 

And  happiness  your  close  of  life  attend. 

But  how  important  a  discovery  Fortune 

To  you  here  makes  you  are  not  yet  apprised  : 

For  destitute  of  heirs  will  I  permit  you 

No  longer  to  remain,  but  through  my  aid 

Shall  you  have  sons,  such  potent  drugs  I  know. 

JEg.  Various  inducements  urge  me  to  comply 
With  this  request,  O  woman  ;  first  an  awe 
For  the  immortal  gods,  and  then  the  hope 
That  I  the  promised  issue  shall  obtain. 
On  what  my  senses  scarce  can  comprehend 
I  will  rely.     O  that  thy  arts  may  prove 
Effectual !     Thee,  if  haply  thou  arriv'st 
In  my  domain,  with  hospitable  rites 
Shall  it  be  my  endeavour  to  receive. 
As  justice  dictates  :  but  to  thee,  thus  much 
It  previouly  behoves  me  to  announce: 
I  will  not  take  thee  with  me  from  this  realm ; 
But  to  my  house  if  of  thyself  thou  come 
Thou  a  secure  asylum  there  shalt  find. 
Nor  will  I  yield  thee  up  to  any  foe. 
But  hence  without  my  aid  must  thou  depart, 
For  I,  from  those  who  in  this  neighbouring  land 
Of  Corinth  entertain  me  as  their  guest, 
Wish  to  incur  no  censure. 

Med.  Your  commands 

Shall  be  obeyed  :  but  would  you  plight  yopr  faith 
That  you  this  promise  will  to  me  perform, 
A  noble  friend  in  you  shall  I  have  found. 

JEg.  Believ'st  thou  not?     Whence  rise  these  anxious 
doubts  ? 

Med.  In  you  I  trust;  though  Pelias'  hostile  race 
And  Creon's  hate  pursue  me  :  but,  if  bound 
By  the  firm  sanction  of  a  solemn  oath. 
You  will  not  suffer  them  with  brutal  force 
To  drag  me  from  your  realm,  but  having  entered 

MEDEA.  135 

Into  such  compact,  and  by  every  god 
Sworn  to  protect  me,  still  remain  a  friend, 
Nor  hearken  to  their  embassies.     My  fortune 
Is  in  its  wane,  but  wealth  to  them  belongs, 
And  an  imperial  mansion. 

^G.  In  these  words 

Hast  thou  expressed  great  forethought  :  but  if  thus 
Thou  art  disposed  to  act,  I  my  consent 
Will  not  refuse;  for  I  shall  be  more  safe 
If  to  thy  foes  some  plausible  excuse 
I  can  allege,  and  thee  more  firmly  stablish. 
But  say  thou  first  what  gods  I  shall  invoke. 

Med.  Swear  by  the  earth  on  which  we  tread,  the  sun 
My  grandsire,  and  by  all  the  race  of  gods, 

.^G.  What  action,  or  to  do  or  to  forbear  ? 

Med.  That  from  your  land  you  never  will  expel, 
Nor  while  you  live  consent  that  any  foe 
Shall  tear  me  thence. 

M.G.  By  earth,  the  radiant  sun, 

And  every  god  I  swear,  I  to  the  terms 
Thou  hast  proposed  will  steadfastly  adhere. 

Med.  This  may  suffice.     But  what  if  you  infringe 
Your  oath,  what  punishment  will  you  endure  1 

J^G.  Each  curse  that  can  befall  the  impious  man. 

Med.  Depart,  and  prosper:  all  things  now  advance 
In  their  right  track,  and  with  the  utmost  speed 
I  to  your  city  will  direct  my  course, 
When  I  have  executed  those  designs 
I  meditate,  and  compassed  what  I  wish.         \Exit  .^^GEUS. 

Chor.  But  thee,  O  king,  may  Maia's  wingdd  son 
Lead  to  thy  Athens  ;   there  mayst  thou  attain 
All  that  thy  soul  desires,  for  thou  to  me, 

0  ^geus,  seem'st  most  generous. 

Med.  Awful  Jove, 

Thou  too,  O  Justice,  who  art  ever  jomed 
With  thundering  Jove,  and  bright  Hyperion's  beams, 
You  I  invoke.    Now,  O  my  friends,  o'er  those 

1  hate  shall  we  prevail :  'tis  the  career 
Of  victory  that  we  tread,  and  I  at  length 


Have  hopes  the  strictest  vengeance  on  my  foes 

To  execute  :  for  where  we  most  in  need 

Of  a  protector  stood,  appeared  this  stranger, 

The  haven  of  my  counsels  :  we  shall  fix 

Our  cables  to  this  poop,  soon  as  we  reach 

That  hallowed  city  where  Minerva  reigns. 

But  now  to  you  the  whole  of  my  designs 

Will  I  relate  ;  look  not  for  such  a  tale 

As  yields  delight :  some  servant  will  I  send 

An  interview  with  Jason  to  request. 

And  on  his  coming,  in  the  softest  words 

Address  him  ;  say  these  matters  are  well  pleasing 

To  me,  and  in  the  strongest  terms  applaud 

That  marriage  with  the  daughter  of  the  king, 

Which  now  the  traitor  celebrates  ;  then  add, 

"  'Tis  for  our  mutual  good,  'tis  rightly  done." 

But  the  request  which  I  intend  to  make 

Is  that  he  here  will  let  my  children  stay; 

Not  that  I  mean  to  leave  them  thus  behind, 

Exposed  to  insults  in  a  hostile  realm 

From  those  I  hate ;  but  that  my  arts  may  slay 

The  royal  maid :  with  presents  in  their  hands, 

A  vesture  finely  wrought  and  golden  crown, 

Will  I  despatch  them  ;  these  they  to  the  bride 

Shall  bear,  that  she  their  exile  may  reverse  : 

If  these  destructive  ornaments  she  take 

And  put  them  on,  both  she,  and  every  one 

Who  touches  her,  shall  miserably  perish — 

My  presents  with  such  drugs  I  will  anoint. 

Far  as  to  this  relates,  here  ends  my  speech. 

But  I  with  anguish  think  upon  a  deed 

Of  more  than  common  horror,  which  remains 

By  me  to  be  accomplished :  for  my  sons 

Am  I  resolved  to  slay,  them  from  this  arm 

Shall  no  man  rescue.     When  I  thus  have  filled 

With  dire  confusion  Jason's  wretched  house, 

I,  from  this  land,  yet  reeking  with  the  gore 

Of  my  dear  sons,  will  fly,  and  having  dared 

A  deed  most  impious.     For  the  scornful  taunts 

MEDEA.  137 

Of  those  we  hate  are  not  to  be  endured, 

Happen  what  may.     Can  hfe  be  any  gain 

To  me  who  have  no  country  left,  no  home, 

No  place  of  refuge?     Greatly  did  I  err 

When  I  forsook  the  mansions  of  my  sire, 

Persuaded  by  the  flattery  of  that  Greek 

Whom  I  will  punish,  if  just  Heaven  permit. 

For  he  shall  not  again  behold  the  children 

I  bore  him  while  yet  living.     From  his  bride 

Nor  shall  there  issu^  any  second  race, 

Since  that  vile  woman  by  my  baleful  drugs 

Vilely  to  perish  have  the  Fates  ordained. 

None  shall  think  lightly  of  me,  as  if  weak. 

Of  courage  void,  or  with  a  soul  too  tame, 

But  formed  by  Heaven  in  a  far  different  mould. 

The  terror  of  my  foes,  and  to  my  friends 

Benignant :  for  most  glorious  are  the  lives 

Of  those  who  act  with  such  determined  zeal. 
Chor.  Since  thy  design  thus  freely  thou  to  us 

Communicat'st,  I,  through  a  wish  to  serve 

Thy  interests,  and  a  reverence  for  those  laws 

Which  all  mankind  hold  sacred,  from  thy  purpose 

Exhort  thee  to  desist. 

Med.  This  cannot  be : 

Yet  I  from  you,  because  ye  have  not  felt 

Distress  like  mine,  such  language  can  excuse. 

Chor.  Thy  guiltless  children  wilt  thou  dare  to  slay.' 
Med.  My  husband  hence  more  deeply  shall  I  wound 
Chor.  But  thou  wilt  of  all  women  be  most  wretched. 
Med.  No  matter :  all  the  counsels  ye  can  give 

Are  now  superfluous.     But  this  instant  go 

And  Jason  hither  bring;  for  on  your  faith, 

In  all  things  I  depend  ;  nor  these  resolves 

Will  you  divulge  if  you  your  mistress  love. 

And  feel  a  woman's  interest  in  my  wrongs. 




I.  I. 
Heroes  of  Erectheus'  race, 
To  the  gods  who  owe  your  birth, 
And  in  a  long  succession  trace 
Your  STcred  origin  from  earih, 
Who  on  wisdom's  fruit  regale, 
Purest  breezes  still  inhale. 
And  behold  skies  ever  bright, 
Wandering  through  those  haunted  glades 
Where  fame  relates  that  the  Pierian  maids, 
Soothing  the  soul  of  man  wiih  chaste  delight, 
•  Taught  Harmony  to  breathe  her  first  enchanting  tale. 

I.  2. 
From  Cephisus'  amber  tide, 

At  the  Cyprian  queen's  command, 
As  sing  the  Muses,  are  supplied 
To  refresh  the  thirsty  land, 
Fragrant  gales  of  temperate  air  ; 
While  around  her  auburn  hair, 
In  a  vivid  chaplet  twined 
Never-fading  roses  bloom 
And  scent  the  champaign  with  their  rich  perfume, 
Love  comes  in  unison  with  wisdom  joined, 
Each  virtue  thrives  if  Beauty  lend  her  fostering  care. 

II.  I. 

For  its  holy  streams  renowned 
Can  that  city,  can  that  state 
Where  friendship's  generous  train  are  found 
Shelter  thee  from  public  hate. 
When,  defiled  with  horrid  guilt, 
Thou  thy  children's  blood  hast  spilt  ? 
Think  on  this  atrocious  deed 
Era  thy  dagger  aim  the  blow  : 
Around  thy  knees  our  suppliant  arms  we  throw ; 
O  doom  not,  doom  them  not  to  bleed. 

MEDEA.  139 

II.  2. 

How  can  thy  relentless  heart 
All  humanity  disclaim, 
Thy  lifted  arm  perform  its  part  ? 
Lost  to  a  sense  of  honest  shame. 
Canst  thou  take  their  lives  away, 
And  these  guiltless  children  slay  ? 
Soon  as  thou  thy  sons  shalt  view. 
How  wilt  thou  the  tear  restrain. 
Or  with  their  blood  thy  ruthless  hands  distain, 
When  prostrate  they  for  mercy  sue  ? 

Jason,  Medea,  Chorus. 

JAS.  I  at  your  call  am  come  ;  for  though  such  hate 
To  me  you  bear,  you  shall  not  be  denied 
In  this  request ;  but  let  me  hear  what  else 
You  would  solicit. 

Med,  Jason,  I  of  thee 

Crave  pardon  for  the  hasty  words  I  spoke  ; 
Since  just  it  were  that  thou  shouldst  bear  my  wrath, 
When  by  such  mutual  proofs  of  love  our  union 
Hath  been  cemented.     For  I  reasoned  thus. 
And  in  these  terms  reproached  myself:  "O  wretch. 
Wretch  that  I  am,  what  madness  fires  my  breast  ? 
Of  why  'gainst  those  who  counsel  me  aright 
Such  fierce  resentment  harbour  ?    What  just  cause 
Have  I  to  hate  the  rulers  of  this  land. 
My  husband  too,  who  acts  but  for  my  good 
In  his  espousals  with  the  royal  maid. 
That  to  my  sons  he  hence  may  r.dd  a  race 
Of  noble  brothers  ?     Shall  not  I  appease 
The  tempest  of  my  soul  ?     Why,  when  the  gods 
Confer  their  choicest  blessings,  should  I  grieve  ? 
Have  not  I  helpless  children  ?     Well  I  know 
That  we  are  banished  from  Thessalia's  realm 
And  left  without  a  friend.''     When  I  these  thoughts 
Maturely  had  revolved,  I  saw  how  great 
My  folly  and  how  groundless  was  my  wrath. 


Now  therefore  I  commend,  now  deem  thee  wise 

In  formmg  this  connection  for  my  sake  : 

But  I  was  void  of  wisdom,  or  had  borne 

A  part  in  these  designs,  the  genial  bed 

Obsequiously  attended,  and  with  joy 

Performed  each  menial  office  for  the  bride. 

I  will  not  speak  in  too  reproachful  terms 

Of  my  own  sex  ;  but  we,  weak  women,  are 

What  nature  formed  us  ;  therefore  our  defects 

Thou  must  not  imitate,  nor  yet  return 

Folly  for  folly.     I  submit  and  own 

My  judgment  was  erroneous,  but  at  length 

Have  I  formed  better  counsels.     O  my  sons. 

Come  hither,  leave  the  palace,  from  those  doors 

Advance,  and  in  a  soft  persuasive  strain 

With  me  unite  your  father  to  accost, 

Forget  past  enmity,  and  to  your  friends 

Be  reconciled,  for  'twixt  us  is  a  league 

Of  peace  established,  and  my  wrath  subsides. 

{The  Sons  ^ Jason  and  Medea  enter. 
Take  hold  of  his  right  hand.     Ah  me,  how  great 
Are  my  afflictions  oft  as  I  revolve 
A  deed  of  darkness  in  my  labouring  soul ! 
How  long,  alas  !  my  sons,  are  ye  ordained 
To  live,  how  long  to  stretch  forth  those  dear  arms  ? 
Wretch  that  I  am  '  how  much  am  I  disposed 
To  weep .'  how  subject  to  each  fresh  alarm  ! 
For  I  at  length  desisting  from  that  strife, 
Which  with  your  sire  I  rashly  did  maintain. 
Feel  gushing  tears  bedew  my  tender  cheek. 

Chor.  Fresh  tears  too  from  these  eyes  have  forced 
their  way ; 
And  may  no  greater  ill  than  that  which  now 
We  suffer,  overtake  us  ! 

Jas.  I  applaud 

your  present  conduct,  and  your  former  rage 
Condemn  not ;  for  'tis  natural  that  the  race 
Of  u  omen  should  be  angry  when  their  lord 
For  a  new  consort  trucks  them.     But  your  heart 
Is  for  the  better  changed,  and  you,  though  late. 

MEDEA.  141 

At  length  acknowledge  the  resistless  power 
Of  reason  ;  this  is  acting  like  a  dame 
Endued  with  prudence.     But  for  you,  my  sons, 
Abundant  safety  your  considerate  sire 
Hath  with  the  favour  of  the  gods  procured, 
For  ye,  I  trust,  shall  with  my  future  race 
Bear  the  first  rank  in  this  Corinthian  realm, 
Advance  to  full  maturity  ;  the  rest. 
Aided  by  each  benignant  god,  your  father 
Shall  soon  accomplish.     Virtuously  trained  up 
May  I  behold  you  at  a  riper  age 
Obtain  pre-eminence  o'er  those  I  hate. 
But,  ha  !     Why  with  fresh  tears  do  you  thus  keep 
Those  eyelids  moist  ?     From  your  averted  cheeks 
Why  is  the  colour  fled,  or  why  these  words 
Receive  you  not  with  a  complacent  ear  ? 

Med.  Nothing  :    my  thoughts   were  busied  for  these 

Jas.  Be  of  good  courage,  and  for  them  depend 
On  my  protecting  care. 

Med.  I  will  obey, 

Nor  disbelieve  the  promise  thou  hast  made  : 
But  woman,  ever  frail,  is  prone  to  shed 
Involuntary  tears. 

Jas.  But  why  bewail 

With  such  deep  groans  these  children  1 

Med.  Them  I  bore  ; 

And  that  our  sons  might  live,  while  to  the  gods 
Thou  didst  address  thy  vows,  a  pitying  thought 
Ente:  ed  my  soul ;  'twas  whether  this  could  be. 
But  of  th'  affairs  on  which  thou  com'st  to  hold 
This  conference  with  me,  have  I  told  a  part 
Already,  and  to  thee  will  now  disclose 
The  sequel :  since  the  rulers  of  this  land 
Resolve  to  banish  me,  as  well  I  know 
That  it  were  best  for  me  to  give  no  umbrage. 
Or  to  the  king  of  Corinth,  or  to  thee, 
By  dwelling  here :  because  I  to  this  house 
Seem  to  bear  enmity,  from  these  domains 
Will  I  depart ;  but  urge  thy  suit  to  Creon, 


That  under  thy  paternal  care  our  sons 

May  be  trained  up,  nor  from  this  realm  expelled. 

Jas.  Though  doubtful  of  success,  I  yet  am  bound 
To  make  th'  attempt. 

Med.  Thou  rather  shouldst  enjoin 

Thy  bride  her  royal  father  to  entreat, 
That  he  these  children's  exile  may  reverse. 

Jas.  With  pleasure  ;  and  I  doubt  not  but  on  her, 
If  like  her  sex  humane,  I  shall  prevail. 

Med.  To  aid  thee  in  this  difficult  emprise 
Shall  be  my  care,  for  I  to  her  will  send 
Gifts  that  I  know  in  beauty  far  exceed 
The  gorgeous  works  of  man  ;  a  tissued  vest 
And  golden  crown  the  children  shall  present, 
But  with  the  utmost  speed  these  ornaments 
One  of  thy  menial  train  must  hither  bring, 
For  not  with  one,  but  with  ten  thousand  blessings 
Shall  she  be  gratified ;  thee,  best  of  men, 
Obtaining  for  the  partner  of  her  bed. 
And  in  possession  of  those  splendid  robes 
Which  erst  the  sun  my  grandsire  did  bestow 
On  his  descendants  :  take  them  in  your  hr.nds, 
My  children,  to  the  happy  royal  bride 
Instantly  bear  them,  and  in  dower  bestow, 
For  such  a  gift  as  ought  not  to  be  scorned 
Shall  she  receive. 

Jas.  Why  rashly  part  with  these  ? 

Of  tissued  robes  or  gold  can  you  suppose 
The  palace  destitute .''    These  trappings  keep, 
Nor  to  another  give  :  for  if  the  dame 
On  me  place  real  value,  well  I  know 
My  love  she  to  all  treasures  will  prefer. 

Med.  Speak  not  so  hastily  :  the  gods  themselves 
By  gifts  arc  swayed,  as  fame  relates  ;  r,nd  gold 
Hath  a  far  greater  influence  o'er  the  souls 
Of  mortals  than  the  most  persuasive  words  : 
With  fortune,  the  propitious  heavens  conspire 
To  add  fresh  glories  to  thy  youthful  bride, 
All  here  submits  to  her  despotic  sway. 

MEDEA.  143 

But  I  my  children's  exile  would  redeem, 
Though  at  the  cost  of  life,  not  gold  alone. 
But  these  adjacent  mansions  of  the  king 
Soon  as  ye  enter,  O  ye  little  ones, 
Your  sire's  new  consort  and  my  queen  entreat 
That  ye  may  not  be  banished  from  this  land  : 
At  the  same  time  these  ornaments  present, 
For  most  important  is  it  that  these  gifts 
With  her  own  hands  the  royal  dame  receive. 
Go  forth,  delay  not,  and,  if  ye  succeed, 
Your  mother  with  the  welcome  tidings  greet. 

[Exeunt  jASON  and  SONS. 



I.  I. 

Now  from  my  soul  each  hope  is  fled, 
I  deem  those  hapless  children  dead, 
They  rush  to  meet  the  wound  : 
Mistrustful  of  no  latent  pest 
Th'  exulting  bride  will  seize  the  gorgeous  vest, 
Her  auburn  tresses  crowned 
By  baleful  Pluto,  shall  she  stand, 
And  take  the  presents  with  an  eager  hand. 

I.  2. 

The  splendid  robe  of  thousand  dyes 
Will  fascinate  her  raptured  eyes. 
And  tempt  her  till  she  wear 
The  golden  diadem,  arrayed 
To  meet  her  bridegroom  in  th'  infernal  shade 
She  thus  into  the  snare 
Of  death  shall  be  surprised  by  fate, 
Nor  'scape  remorseless  Aic's  direful  hate. 

But  as  for  thee  whose  nuptials  brin^ 
The  proud  alliance  of  a  king, 


'Midst  dangers  unespied 

Thou  madly  rushing,  nid'st  the  blow 

Ordained  by  Heaven  to  lay  thy  children  low, 

And  thy  lamented  bride : 

O  man,  how  little  dost  thou  know 

That  o'er  thy  head  impends  severest  woe  I 

II.    2, 

Thy  anguish  I  no  less  bemoan, 
No  less  for  thee,  O  mother,  groan, 

Bent  on  a  horrid  deed, 
Thy  children  who  resolv'st  to  slay. 
Nor  fear'st  to  take  their  guiltless  lives  away. 
Those  innocents  must  bleed, 
Because,  disdainful  of  thy  charms, 
The  husband  flies  to  a  new  consort's  arms. 

Attendant,  Sons,  Medea,  Chorus. 

Att.  Your  sons,  my  honoured  mistress,  are  set  free 
From  banishment  ;  in  her  own  hands  those  gifts 
With  courtesy  the  royal  bride  received  ; 
Hence  have  your  sons  obtained  their  peace. 

Med.  No  matter. 

Att.  Why  stand  you  in  confusion,  when  befriended 
By  prosperous  fortune .'' 

Med.  Ah ! 

Ait.  This  harsh  reception 

Accords  not  with  the  tidings  which  I  bring. 

Med.  Alas  I  and  yet  again  I  say,  alas  ! 

Att.  Have  I  related  with  unconscious  tongue 
Some  great  calamity,  by  the  fond  hope 
Of  bearing  glad  intelligence  misled  ? 

Med.  For  having  told  what  thou  hast  told,  no  blame 
To  thee  do  I  impute. 

Att.  But  on  the  ground 

Why  fix  those  eyes,  and  shed  abundant  tears .-' 

Med.  Necessity  constrains  me  :  for  the  gods 
Of  Erebus  and  I  in  evil  hour 
Our  baleful  machinations  have  devised. 

MEDEA.  145 

Att.  Be  of  good  cheer  ;  for  in  your  childien  still 
Are  you  successful. 

Med.  'Midst  the  realms  of  night 

Others  I  first  will  plunge.     Ah,  wretched  me  ! 

Att.  Not  you  alone  are  from  your  children  torn, 
Mortal  you  are,  and  therefore  must  endure 
Calamity  with  patience. 

Med.  I  these  counsels 

Will  practise  :  but  go  thou  into  the  palace, 
And  for  the  children  whatsoe'er  to-day 
Is  requisite,  make  ready.  [Exit  ATTENDANT. 

O  my  sons  ! 
My  sons  !  ye  have  a  city  and  a  house 
Where,  leaving  hapless  me  behind,  without 
A  mother  ye  for  ever  shall  reside. 
But  I  to  other  realms  an  exile  go, 
Ere  any  help  from  you  I  could  derive, 
Or  see  you  blest  ;  the  hymeneal  pomp, 
The  bride,  the  genial  couch,  for  you  adorn, 
And  in  these  hands  the  kindled  torch  sustain. 
How  wretched  am  I  through  my  own  p:rverseness  ! 
You,  O  my  sons,  I  then  in  vain  have  nurtured, 
In  vain  have  toiled,  and,  wasted  with  fatigue, 
Suffered  the  pregnant  matron's  grievous  throes. 
On  you,  in  my  afflictions,  many  hopes 
I  founded  erst  :  that  ye  with  pious  care 
Would  foster  my  old  age,  and  on  the  bier 
Extend  me  after  death— much  envied  lot 
Of  mortals  ;  but  these  pleasing  anxious  thoughts 
Are  vanished  now ;  for,  losing  you,  a  life 
Of  bitterness  and  anguish  shall  I  lead. 
But  as  for  you,  my  sons,  with  those  dear  eyes 
Fated  no  more  your  mother  to  behold, 
Hence  are  ye  hastening  to  a  world  unknown. 
Why  do  ye  gaze  on  me  with  such  a  look 
Of  tenderness,  or  wherefore  smiVs  ?  for  these 
Are  your  last  smiles.     Ah  wretched,  wretched  me  ! 
What  shall  I  do  ?    My  resolution  fails. 
Sparkling  v.  ith  joy  now  I  their  looks  have  seen. 


My  friends,  I  can  no  more.     To  those  past  schemes 

I  bid  adieu,  and  with  me  from  this  land 

My  children  will  convey.     Why  should  I  cause 

A  twofold  portion  of  distress  to  fall 

On  my  own  head,  that  I  may  grieve  the  sire 

By  punishing  his  sons  ?     This  shall  not  be  : 

Such  counsels  I  dismiss.     But  in  my  purpose 

What  means  this  change  ?     Can  I  prefer  derision, 

And  with  impunity  permit  the  foe 

To  'scape  ?     My  utmost  courage  I  must  rouse  : 

For  the  suggestion  of  these  tender  thoughts 

Proceeds  from  an  enervate  heart.     My  sons. 

Enter  the  regal  mansion.  \Exeunt  SONS. 

As  for  those 
Who  deem  that  to  be  present  were  unholy 
While  I  the  destined  victims  offer  up, 
Let  them  see  to  it.     This  uplifted  arm 
Shall  never  shrink.     Alas  !  alas  !  my  soul 
Commit  not  such  a  deed.     Unhappy  woman, 
Desist  and  spare  thy  children  ;  we  will  live 
Together,  they  in  foreign  realms  shall  cheer 
Thy  exile.     No,  by  those  avenging  fiends 
Who  dwell  with  Pluto  in  the  realms  beneath, 
This  shall  not  be,  nor  will  I  ever  leave 
My  sons  to  be  insulted  by  their  foes. 
They  certainly  must  die  ;  since  then  they  miiet, 
I  bore  and  I  will  slay  them  :  'tis  a  deed 
Resolved  on,  nor  my  purpose  will  I  change. 
Full  well  I  know  that  now  the  royal  bride 
Wears  on  her  head  the  magic  diadem, 
And  in  the  variegated  robe  expires  : 
But,  hurried  on  by  fate,  I  tread  a  path 
Of  utter  wretchedness,  and  them  will  plunge 
Into  one  yet  more  wretched.     To  my  sons 
Fain  would  I  say  :  "  O  stretch  forth  your  right  hands, 
Ye  children,  for  your  mother  to  embrace. 
O  dearest  hands,  ye  lips  to  me  most  dear, 
Engaging  features  and  ingenuous  looks, 
May  ye  be  blest,  but  in  another  world  ; 


For  by  the  treacherous  conduct  of  your  sire 
Are  ye  bereft  of  all  this  earth  bestowed. 
Farewell,  sweet  kisses — tender  limbs,  farewell  ! 
And  fragrant  breath  !     I  never  more  can  bear 
To  look  on  you,  my  children.''     My  afflictions 
Have  conquered  me  ;  I  now  am  well  aware 
What  crimes  I  venture  on  :  but  rage,  the  cause 
Of  woes  most  grievous  to  the  human  race, 
Over  my  better  reason  hath  prevailed. 

Chor.  In  subtle  questions  I  full  many  a  time 
Have  heretofore  engaged,  and  this  great  point 
Debated,  whether  woman  should  extend 
Her  search  into  abstruse  and  hidden  truths. 
But  we  too  have  a  Muse,  who  with  our  sex 
Associates  to  expound  the  mystic  lore 
Of  wisdom,  though  she  dwell  not  with  us  all. 
Yet  haply  a  small  number  may  be  found, 
Among  the  multitude  of  females,  dear 
To  the  celestial  Muses.     I  maintain, 
They  who  in  total  inexperience  live, 
Nor  ever  have  been  parents,  are  more  happy 
Than  they  to  whom  much  progeny  belongs. 
Because  the  childless,  having  never  tried 
Whether  more  pain  or  pleasure  from  their  offspring 
To  mortals  rises,  'scape  unnumbered  toils. 
But  I  observe  that  they,  whose  fruitful  house 
Is  with  a  lovely  race  of  infants  filled, 
Are  harassed  with  perpetual  cares  ;  how  first 
To  train  them  up  in  virtue,  and  whence  leave 
Fit  portions  for  their  sons  ;  but  on  the  good 
Or  worthless,  whether  they  these  toils  bestow 
Remains  involved  in  doubt.     I  yet  must  name 
One  evil  the  most  grievous,  to  which  all 
The  human  race  is  subject ;  some  there  are 
Who  for  their  sons  have  gained  sufficient  wealth. 
Seen  them  to  full  maturity  advance, 
And  decked  with  every  virtue,  when,  by  fate 
If  thus  it  be  ordained,  comes  death  unseen 
And  hurries  them  to  Pluto's  gloomy  realm. 



Can  it  be  any  profit  to  the  gods 

To  heap  the  loss  of  children,  that  one  ill 

Than  all  the  rest  more  bitter,  on  mankind  ? 

Med.  My  friends,  with  anxious  expectation  long 
Here  have  I  waited,  from  within  to  learn 
How  fortune  will  dispose  the  dread  event. 
But  one  of  Jason's  servants  I  behold 
With  breathless  speed  advancing :  his  looks  show 
That  he  some  recent  mischief  would  relate. 

Messenger,  Medea,  Chorus. 

Mes.  O  thou,  who  impiously  hast  wrought  a  deed 
Of  horror,  fly,  Medea,  from  this  land, 
Fly  with  such  haste  as  not  to  leave  the  bark 
Or  from  the  car  alight. 

Med.  What  crime,  to  merit 

A  banishment  like  this,  have  I  committed  ? 

Mes.  By  thy  enchantments  is  the  royal  maid 
This  instant  dead,  and  Creon,  too,  her  sire. 

Med.  Most  glorious  are  the  tidings  you  relate  : 
Henceforth  shall  you  be  numbered  with  my  friends 
And  benefactors. 

Mes.  Ha  !  what  words  are  these  ? 

Dost  thou  preserve  thy  senses  yet  entire  ? 
O  woman,  hath  not  madness  fired  thy  brain  ? 
The  wrongs  thou  to  the  royal  house  done 
Hear'st  thou  with  joy,  nor  shudder'st  at  the  tale  ? 

Med.  Somewhat  I  have  in  answer  to  your  speech  : 
But  be  not  too  precipitate,  my  friend  ; 
inform  me  how  they  died,  for  twofold  joy 
Wilt  thou  afford,  if  wretchedly  they  perished. 

Mes.  When  with  their  father  thy  two  sons  arrived 
And  went  into  the  mansion  of  the  bride, 
We  servants,  who  had  shared  thy  griefs,  rejoiced  ; 
For  a  loud  rumour  instantly  prevailed 
That  all  past  strife  betwixt  thy  lord  and  thee 
Was  reconciled.     Some  kissed  the  children's  hands, 
And  some  their  auburn  tresses.     I  with  joy 
To  those  apartments  where  the  women  dwell 

MEDEA.  149 

Attended  them.     Our  mistress,  the  new  object 

Of  homage  such  as  erst  to  thee  was  paid, 

Ere  she  beheld  thy  sons  on  Jason  cast 

A  look  of  fond  desire  :  but  then  she  veiled 

Her  eyes,  and  turned  her  pallid  cheeks  away 

Disgusted  at  their  coming,  till  his  voice 

Appeased  her  anger  with  these  gentle  words  : 

"  O  be  not  thou  inveterate  'gainst  thy  friends, 

But  lay  aside  disdain,  thy  beauteous  face 

Turn  hither,  and  let  amity  for  those 

Thy  husband  loves  still  warm  that  generous  breast. 

Accept  these  gifts,  and  to  thy  father  sue. 

That,  for  my  sake,  the  exile  of  my  sons 

He  will  remit."     Soon  as  the  princess  saw 

Thy  glittering  ornaments,  she  could  resist 

No  longer,  but  to  all  her  lord's  requests 

Assented,  and  before  thy  sons  were  gone 

Far  from  the  reg'al  mansion  with  their  sire, 

The  vest,  resplendent  with  a  thousand  dyes, 

Put  on,  and  o'er  her  loosely  floating  hair 

Placing  the  golden  crown,  before  the  mirror 

Her  tresses  braided,  and  with  smiles  surveyed 

Th'  inanimated  semblance  of  her  chnrms  : 

Then  rising  from  her  seat  across  the  palace 

Walked  with  a  delicate  and  graceful  step, 

In  the  rich  gifts  exulting,  and  oft  turned 

Enraptured  eyes  on  her  own  stately  neck, 

Reflected  to  her  view  :  but  now  a  scene 

Of  horror  followed  ;  her  complexion  changed. 

And  she  reeled  backward,  trembling  every  limb  ; 

Seal  ce  did  her  chair  receive  her  as  she  sunk 

In  time  to  save  her  falling  to  the  ground. 

One  of  her  menial  train,  an  ?ged  dame, 

Possest  with  an  idea  that  the  wrath 

Either  of  Pan  or  of  some  god  unknown 

Her  mistress  had  invaded,  in  shrill  tone 

Poured  forth  a  vow  to  Heaven,  till  from  her  mouth 

She  saw  foim  issu^,  i.i  their  sockets  roll 

Her  wildly  glaring  eyeballs,  and  the  blood 


Leave  her  whole  frame  ;  a  shriek,  that  differed  far 

From  her  first  plaints,  then  gave  she.     In  an  instant 

This  to  her  father's  house,  and  that  to  tell 

The  bridegroom  the  mischance  which  had  befallen 

His  consort,  rushed  impetuous  ;  through  the  dome 

The  frequent  steps  of  those  who  to  and  fro 

Ran  in  confusion  did  resound.     But  soon 

As  the  fleet  courser  at  the  goal  arrives, 

She  who  was  silent,  and  had  closed  her  eyes, 

Roused  from  her  swoon,  and  burst  forth  into  groans 

Most  dreadful,  for  'gainst  her  two  evils  warred  : 

Placed  on  her  head  the  golden  crown  poured  forth 

A  wondrous  torrent  of  devouring  flames, 

And  the  embroidered  robes,  thy  children's  gifts, 

Preyed  on  the  hapless  virgin's  tender  flesh  ; 

Covered  with  fire  she  started  from  her  seat 

Shaking  her  hair,  and  from  her  head  the  crown 

With  violence  attempting  to  remove. 

But  still  more  firmly  did  the  heated  gold 

Adhere,  and  the  fanned  blaze  with  double  lustre 

Burst  forth  as  she  her  streaming  tresses  shook  : 

Subdued  by  fate,  at  length  she  to  the  ground 

Fell  prostrate  :  scarce  could  any  one  have  known  her 

Except  her  father  ;  for  those  radiant  eyes 

Dropped  from  their  sockets,  that  majestic  face 

Its  wonted  features  lost,  and  blood  with  fire 

Ran  down  her  head  in  intermingled  streams. 

While  from  her  bones  the  flesh,  like  weeping  pitch, 

Melted  away,  througli  the  consuming  power 

Of  those  unseen  enchantments  ;  'twas  a  sight 

Most  horrible  :  all  feared  to  touch  the  corpse. 

For  her  disastrous  end  had  taught  us  caution. 

Meanwhile  her  hapless  sire,  who  knew  not  aught 

Of  this  calamity,  as  he  with  haste 

Entered  the  palace,  stumbled  o'er  her  body  ; 

Instantly  shrieking  out,  then  with  his  arms 

Infolded,  kissed  it  oft,  and,  "  O  my  child, 

My  wretched  child,"  exclaimed  ;  "  what  envious  god, 

Author  of  thy  dishonourable  fall. 

MEDEA.  151 

Of  thee  bereaves  an  old  decrepit  man 

Whom  the  grave  claims  ?    With  thee  I  wish  to  die, 

My  daughter."     Scarcely  had  the  hoary  father 

These  lamentations  ended  ;  to  uplift 

His  feeble  body  striving,  he  adhered 

(As  ivy  with  its  pliant  tendrils  clings 

Around  the  laurel)  to  the  tissued  vest. 

Dire  was  the  conflict ;  he  to  raise  his  knee 

From  earth  attempted,  but  his  daughter's  corse 

Still  held  him  down,  or  if  with  greater  force 

He  dragged  it  onward,  from  his  bones  he  tore 

The  aged  flesh  ;  at  length  he  sunk,  and  breathed 

In  agonizing  pangs  his  soul  away; 

For  he  against  such  evil  could  bear  up 

No  longer.     To  each  other  close  in  death 

The  daughter  and  her  father  lie  :  their  fate 

Demands  our  tears.     Warned  by  my  words,  with  haste 

From  this  domain  convey  thyself,  or  vengeance 

Will  overtake  thee  for  this  impious  deed. 

Not  now  for  the  first  time  do  I  esteem 

Human  affairs  a  shadow.     Without  fear 

Can  I  pronounce,  they  who  appear  endued 

With  wisdom,  and  most  plausibly  trick  out 

Specious  harangues,  deserve  to  be  accounted 

The  worst  of  fools.     The  man  completely  blest 

Exists  not.     Some  in  overflowing  wealth 

May  be  more  fortunate,  but  none  are  happy. 

Chor.  Heaven  its  collected  store  of  evil  seems 
This  day  resolved  with  justice  to  pour  down 
On  perjured  Jason.     Thy  untimely  fate 
How  do  we  pity,  O  thou  wretched  daughter 
Of  Creon,  who  in  Pluto's  mansions  go'st 
To  celebrate  thy  nuptial  feast. 

Med.  My  friends, 

I  am  resolved,  as  soon  as  I  have  slain 
My  children,  from  these  regions  to  depart, 
Nor  through  inglorious  sloth  will  I  abandon 
My  sons  to  perish  by  detested  hands  ; 
They  certainly  must  die  :  since  then  they  must, 


I  bore  and  I  will  slay  Ihem.     O  my  heart  I 

Be  armed  with  tenfold  firmness.     Wliat  avails  it 

To  loiter,  when  inevitable  ills 

Remain  to  be  accomplished  ?     Take  the  sword, 

And,  O  my  hand,  on  to  the  goal  that  ends 

Their  life,  nor  let  one  intervening  thought 

Of  pity  or  maternal  tenderness 

Suspend  thy  purpose :  for  this  one  short  day 

Forget  how  fondly  thou  didst  love  thy  sons, 

How  bring  them  forth,  and  after  that  lament 

Their  cruel  fate  :  although  thou  art  resolved 

To  slay,  yet  hast  thou  ever  held  them  dear. 

But  I  am  of  ;ill  women  the  mort  wretched. 

l^Exit  Medea. 



Earth,  and  thou  sun,  whose  fervid  blaze 
From  pole  to  pole  illumes  each  distant  land, 
View  this  abnndomed  woman,  ere  she  raise 
Against  her  children's  lives  a  ruthless  hand  : 

For  from  thy  race,  divinely  bright. 
They  spring,  and  should  the  sons  of  gods  be  slain 

By  man,  'twere  dreadful.     O  restrain 
Her  fury,  thou  celestial  source  of  light. 
Ere  she  with  blood  pollute  your  regal  dome. 
Chased  by  the  demons  hence  let  this  Erinnys  roam. 

The  pregnant  matron's  throes  in  vain 
Hast  thou  endured,  and  borne  a  lovely  race, 
O  thou,  who  o'er  th'  inhospitable  main, 
Where  the  Cyanean  rocks  scarce  leave  a  space. 

Thy  daring  voyage  didst  pursue. 
Why,  O  thou  wretch,  thy  soul  doth  anger  rend. 

Such  as  in  murder  soon  must  end  ? 
They  who  with  kindred  gore  are  stained  shall  rue 
Their  guilt  inexpiable  :  full  well  I  know 
The  gods  will  on  this  house  inflict  severest  woe. 

MEDEA.  153 

1st  Son  \within^  Ah  me  !  what  can  I  do,  or  whither  fly 
To  'scape  a  mother's  arm  ? 

2nd  Son  \within?\  I  cannot  tell : 

For,  O  my  dearest  brother,  v.  e  are  lost. 

Chor.   Heard  you  the  children's  shrieks  ?     I   (O  thou 
Whom  woes  and  evil  fortune  still  attend) 
Will  rush  into  the  regal  dome,  from  death 
Resolved  to  snatch  thy  sons. 

1st  Son  {within^  We  by  the  gods 

Conjure  you  to  protect  us  in  this  hour 
Of  utmost  peril,  for  the  treacherous  snare 
Hath  caught  us,  and  we  perish  by  the  sword. 

Chor.  Art  thou  a  rock,  O  wretch,  or  steel,  to  slay 
With  thine  own  hand  that  generous  race  of  sons 
Whom  thou  didst  bear  ?     1  hitherto  have  heard 
But  of  one  woman,  who  in  ancient  days 
Smote  her  dear  children,  Ino,  by  the  gods 
With  frenzy  stung,  when  Jove's  malignant  queen 
Distracted  from  her  mansion  drove  her  forth . 
But  she,  yet  reeking  with  the  impious  gore 
Of  her  own  progeny,  into  the  waves 
Plunged  headlong  from  the  ocean's  craggy  beach. 
And  shared  with  her  two  sons  one  common  fate. 
Can  there  be  deeds  more  horrible  than  these 
Left  for  succeeding  ages  to  produce .-' 
Disastrous  union  with  the  female  sex. 
How  great  a  source  of  woes  art  thou  to  man  ! 

Jason,  Chorus. 
Jas.  Ye  dames  who  near  the  portals  stand,  is  she 
Who  hath  committed  these  atrocious  crimes, 
Medea,  in  the  palace,  or  by  flight 
Hath  she  retreated  ?     For  beneath  the  ground 
Must  she  conceal  herself,  or,  borne  on  wings, 
Ascend  the  heights  of  Ether,  to  avoid 
The  vengeance  due  for  Corinth's  royal  house. 
Having  destroyed  the  rulers  of  the  land, 
Can  she  presume  she  shall  escape  unhurt 
From   these  abodes  ?     But  less  am  I  concerned 


On  her  account,  than  for  my  sons ;  since  they 
Whom  she  hath  injured  will  on  her  inflict 
Due  punishment :  but  hither  am  I  come 
To  save  my  children's  lives,  lest  on  their  heads 
The  noble  Creon's  kindred  should  retaliate 
That  impious  murder  by  their  mother  wrought. 

Chor.  Thou  know'st  not  yet,  O  thou  unhappy  man, 
What  ills  thou  art  involved  in,  or  these  words 
Had  not  escaped  thee. 

Jas.  Ha,  what  ills  are  these 

Thou  speak'st  of?    Would  she  also  murder  me  ? 

Chor.  By  their  own  mother's  hand  thy  sons  are  slain. 

Jas.  What  can  you  mean  ?    How  utterly,  O  woman, 
Have  you  undone  me  ! 

Chor.  Be  assured  thy  children 

Are  now  no  more. 

Jas,  Where  was  it,  or  within 

Those  mansions  or  without,  that  she  destroyed 
Our  progeny  ? 

Chor.  As  soon  as  thou  these  doors 

Hast  oped,  their  weltering  corses  wilt  thou  view. 

Jas.  Loose  the  firm  bars  and  bolts  of  yonder  gates 
With  speed,  ye  servants,  that  I  may  behold 
This  scene  of  twofold  misery,  the  remains 
Of  the  deceased,  and  punish  her  who  slew  them. 

Medea,  in  a  chariot  drawn  by  dragons,  jASON,  Chorus. 

Med,  With  levers  wherefore  dost  thou  shake  those  doors 
In  quest  of  them  who  are  no  more,  and  me 
Who  dared  to  perpetrate  the  bloody  deed  .■' 
Desist  from  such  unprofitable  toil : 
But  if  there  yet  be  aught  that  thou  with  me 
Canst  want,  speak  freely  whatsoe'er  thou  wilt : 
For  with  that  hand  me  never  shalt  thou  reach, 
Such  steeds  the  sun  my  grandsire  gives  to  whirl 
This  chariot  and  protect  me  from  my  foes. 

Jas.  O  most  abandoned  woman,  by  the  gods. 
By  me  and  all  the  human  race  abhorred, 
Who  with  the  sword  could  pierce  the  sons  you  bore, 

MEDEA.  155 

And  ruin  me,  a  childless  wretched  man, 

Yet  after  you  this  impious  deed  have  dared 

To  perpetrate,  still  view  the  radiant  sun 

And  fostering  earth  ;  may  vengeance  overtake  you ! 

For  I  that  reason  have  regained  which  erst 

Forsook  me,  when  to  the  abodes  of  Greece 

I  from  your  home,  from  a  Barbarian  realm, 

Conveyed  you,  to  your  sire  a  grievous  bane, 

And  the  corrupt  betrayer  of  that  land 

Which  nurtured  you.     Some  envious  god  first  roused 

Your  evil  genius  from  the  shades  of  hell 

For  my  undoing  :  after  you  had  slain 

Your  brother  at  the  altar,  you  embarked 

In  the  famed  Argo.     Deeds  like  these  a  life 

Of  guilt  commenced ;  with  me  in  wedlock  joined, 

You  bore  those  sons,  whom  you  have  now  destroyed 

Because  I  left  your  bed.     No  Grecian  dame 

Would  e'er  have  ventured  on  a  deed  so  impious ; 

Yet  I  to  them  preferred  you  for  my  bride  : 

This  was  a  hostile  union,  and  to  me 

The  most  destructive  ;  for  my  arms  received 

No  woman,  but  a  lioness  more  fell 

Than  Tuscan  Scylla.     Vainly  should  I  strive 

To  wound  you  with  reproaches  numberless, 

For  you  are  grown  insensible  of  shame  ! 

Vile  sorceress,  and  polluted  with  the  blood 

Of  your  own  children,  perish — my  hard  fate 

While  I  lament,  for  I  shall  ne'er  enjoy 

My  lovely  bride,  nor  with  those  sons,  who  owe 

To  me  their  birth  and  nurture,  ever  hold 

Sweet  converse.     They,  alas  !  can  live  no  more, 

Utterly  lost  to  their  desponding  sire. 

Med.  Much  could  I  say  in  answer  to  this  charge, 
Were  not  the  benefits  from  me  received. 
And  thy  abhorred  ingratitude,  well  known 
To  Jove,  diead  sire.     Yet  was  it  not  ordained, 
Scorning  my  bed,  that  thou  shouldst  lead  a  life 
Of  fond  delight,  and  ridicule  my  griefs  ; 
Nor  that  the  royal  virgin  thou  didst  wed, 


Or  Creon,  who  to  thee  his  daughter  gave, 
Should  drive  me  from  these  regions  unavenged. 
A  lioness  then  call  me  if  thou  wilt, 
Or  by  the  name  of  Scylla,  whose  abode 
Was  in  Eirurian  caverns.     For  tiiy  heart, 
As  justice  prompted,  in  my  turn  I  wounded. 

Jas.  You  grieve,  and  are  the  partner  of  my  woes. 

Med.  Be  well  assured  I  am  :  but  what  assuages 
My  grief  is  this,  that  thou  no  more  canst  scoff. 

Jas.  How  vile  a  mother,  O  my  sons,  was  yours  ! 

Med.  How  did  ye  perish  through  your  father's  lust ! 

Jas.  But  my  right  hand  was  guiltless  of  their  death. 

Med.  Not  so  thy  cruel  taunts,  and  that  new  marriage. 

Jas.  Was  my  new  marriage  a  sufficient  cause 
For  thee  to  murder  them  ? 

Med.  Canst  thou  suppose 

Such  wrongs  sit  light  upon  the  female  breast .-' 

Jas.  On  a  chaste  w  oman's  ;  but  your  soul  abounds 
With  wickedness. 

Med.  Thy  sons  are  now  no  more, 

This  will  afflict  thee. 

Jas.  OVr  your  head,  alas  ! 

They  now  two  evil  geniuses  impend. 

Med.  The  gods  know  who  these  ruthless  deeds  began. 

Jas.  They  know  the  hateful  temper  of  your  soul. 

Med.  In  detestation  thee  I  hold,  and  loathe 
Thy  conversation. 

Jas.  Yours  too  I  abhor  ; 

But  we  with  ease  may  settle  on  what  terms 
To  part  for  ever. 

Med.  Name  those  terms.     Say  how 

Shall  I  proceed  ?     For  such  my  ardent  wish. 

Jas.  Let  me  inter  the  dead,  and  o'er  them  weep. 

Med.  Thou  sh.  It  not.    For  their  corses  with  this  hand 
Am  I  resolved  to  bury  in  the  grove 
Sacred  to  awful  Juno,  who  protects 
The  citadel  of  Corinth,  lest  their  fo:s 
Insult  them,  and  wiih  impious  rage  pluck  up 
The  monumental  stone.     I  in  this  realm 

MEDEA.,  157 

Of  Sisyphus  moreover  will  ordain 
A  solemn  festival  and  mystic  rites, 
To  make  a  due  atonement  fur  my  guilt 
In  having  slain  them.     To  Erectheus'  land 
I  now  am  on  my  road,  where  I  shall  dwell 
With  yEgeus,  great  Pandion's  son  ;  but  thou 
Shalt  vilely  perish  as  thy  crimes  deserve, 
Beneath  the  shattered  relics  of  thy  bark, 
The  Argo,  crushed  ;  such  is  the  bitter  end 
Of  our  espousals  and  thy  faith  betrayed. 

Jas.  May  the  Erinnys  of  our  slaughtered  sons, 
And  justice,  who  requites  each  murderous  deed, 
Destroy  you  utterly  ! 

Med.  Will  any  god 

Or  demon  hear  thy  curses,  O  thou  wretch, 
False  to  thy  oath,  and  to  the  sacred  laws 
Of  hospitality  ? 

Jas.  Most  impious  woman, 

Those  hands  yet  reeking  wiih  your  children's  gore — 

Med.  Go  to  the  palace,  and  inter  thy  bride. 

Jas.  Bereft  of  both  my  sons,  I  thither  go. 

Med.  Not  yet  enough  lament'st  thou  :  to  increase 
Thy  sorrows,  mayst  thou  live  till  thou  art  old  ! 

Jas.  Ye  dearest  children. 

Med.  To  their  mother  dear, 

But  not  to  thee. 

Jas.  Yet  them  have  you  destroyed. 

Med.  That  I  might  punish  thee. 

Jas.  One  more  fond  kiss 

On  their  loved  lips,  ah  me  !  would  I  imprint. 

Med.  Now  wouldst  thou  speak  to  them,  and  in  thine  arms 
Clasp  those  whom  living  thou  didst  banish  hence. 

Jas.  Allow  me,  1  conjure  you  by  the  gods. 
My  children's  tender  bodies  to  embrace. 

Med.  Thou  shalt  not :  these  presumptuous  words  in  vain 
By  thee  were  hazarded. 

Jas.  Jove,  licai'st  thou  this. 

How  I  with  scorn  am  driven  away,  how  wronged 
By  that  detested  lioness,  whose  fangs 


Have  slain  her  children  ?    Yet  shall  my  loud  plaints, 

While  here  I  fix  my  seat,  if  'tis  allowed, 

And  this  be  possible,  call  down  the  gods 

To  witness  that  you  hinder  me  from  touching 

My  murdered  sons,  and  paying  the  deceased 

Funereal  honours.     Would  to  Heaven  I  ne'er 

Had  seen  them  born  to  perish  by  your  hand  ! 

Chor.  Throned  on  Olympus,  with  his  sovereign  nod, 
Jove  unexpectedly  performs  the  schemes 
Divine  foreknowledge  planned  ;  our  firmest  hopes 
Oft  fail  us  :  but  the  god  still  finds  the  means 
Of  compassing  what  man  could  ne'er  have  looked  for; 
And  thus  doth  this  important  business  end. 

The  Phcenician   Damsels. 





Chorus  of  Phcenician  Damsels. 





Another  Me.ssenger. 

SCENE — An  Open  Court  before  the  Palace  at  Thebes. 


O  THOU,  who  through  the  starry  heavens  divid'st 

Thy  path,  and  on  a  golden  chariot  sitt'st 

Exalted,  radiant  sun,  beneath  the  hoofs 

Of  whose  swift  steeds  the  fiery  volumes  roll, 

How  inauspicious,  o'er  the  Theban  race 

Didst  thou  dart  forth  thy  beams,  the  day  when  Cadmus 

Came  to  this  land  from  the  Phoenician  coast. 

He  erst  obtained  Harmonia  for  his  bride, 

Daughter  of  Venus  ;  of  their  loves  the  fruit 

Was  Polydorus,  and  from  him,  as  fame 

Relates,  descended  Labdacus,  the  sire 

Of  Laius.     From  Menasceus  I  derive 

My  birth  ;  my  brother  Creon  and  myself 

From  the  same  mother  spring :  but  I  am  called 

Jocasta,  'twas  the  name  my  father  gave  ; 

Me  royal  Laius  married  ;  but  when  long 

Our  bed  had  proved  unfruitful,  he  to  search 

The  oracle  of  Phoebus  went,  and  sued 

To  the  prophetic  god,  that  he  our  house 

Would  cheer  with  an  auspicious  race  of  sons : 


The  god  replied,  '"  Beware,  O  thou  who  rul'st 

The  martial  Thebans,  strive  not  to  obtain 

A  progeny  against  the  will  of  Heaven  : 

If  thou  beget  a  son,  that  son  shall  slay  thee, 

And  all  thy  household  shall  be  plunged  in  blood." 

He  overcome  by  lust,  and  flushed  with  wine, 

In  an  unguarded  moment  disobeyed  : 

But  I  no  sooner  had  brought  forth  the  child, 

Than  he,  grown  conscious  of  his  foul  offence 

Against  Apollo's  mandate,  to  his  shepherds 

The  new-born  infant  gave,  in  Juno's  meads. 

And  on  Cithccron's  hill,  to  be  exposed. 

Maiming  his  feet  with  pointed  steel,  whence  Greece 

Hath  called  him  Oidipus.     But  they  who  fed 

The  steeds  of  Polypus,  soon  taking  up, 

Conveyed  him  to  their  home,  and  in  the  hands 

Of  their  kind  mistress  placed,  she  at  her  breast 

Nurtured  my  son,  and  artfully  persuaded 

Her  lord  that  she  was  mother  to  the  boy  : 

Soon  as  the  manly  beard  his  cheek  o'erspread, 

Aware  from  his  own  knowledge,  or  infonned 

Of  the  deceit,  solicitous  to  learn 

Who  were  his  parents,  to  Apollo's  shrine 

He  journeyed  ;  and  at  the  same  time  was  Laius, 

My  husband,  hastening  hither,  to  inquire 

Whether  the  child  he  had  exposed  was  dead. 

In  Phocis,  where  two  severed  roads  unite, 

They  met :  the  charioteer  of  Lnius  cried 

In  an  imperious  tone,  "  Give  way  to  kings. 

Thou  stranger"  :  yet  the  silent  youth  advanced. 

With  inborn  greatness  fired,  till  o'er  his  feet 

Distained  with  gore  the  steel-hoofed  coursers  trod  ; 

Hence  (for  what  need  have  I  to  speak  of  aught 

That's  foreign  to  my  woes  ?)  th'  unconscious  son 

Slew  his  own  father,  seized  the  spoils,  and  gave 

To  Polybus,  who  nurtured  him,  the  car. 

But  when  with  ruthless  fangs  the  Sphynx  laid  waste 

The  city,  and  my  husband  was  no  more. 

My  brother  Creon  by  the  herald's  voice 


Proclaimed  that  whosoever  could  expound 
Th'  enigma  by  that  crafty  virgin  forged 
Should  win  me  for  his  bride :  that  mystic  clue 
The  luckless  Qldipus,  my  son,  unravelled; 
Hence  o'er  this  land  appointed  king,  he  gained 
For  his  reward  a  sceptre — wretched  youth  I — 
Unwittingly  espousing  me  who  bore  him  ; 
Nor  yet  was  I  his  mother  then  aware 
That  we  committed  incest.     I  produced 
To  my  own  son  four  children  ;  two  were  males, 
Eteocles  and  Polynices,  famed 
For  martial  prowess  ;  daughters  two,  the  one 
Her  father  called  Ismene,  but  the  first 
I  named  Antigone.     Soon  as  he  learned 
That  I  whom  he  had  wedded  was  his  mother, 
The  miserable  Oedipus,  o'erwhelmed 
With  woes  accumulated,  from  their  sockets 
Tore  with  a  golden  clasp  his  bleeding  eyes. 
But  since  the  beard  o'ershaded  my  sons'  cheeks, 
Their  sire  they  in  a  dungeon  have  confined, 
The  memory  of  this  sad  event  t'  efface, 
For  which  they  needed  every  subtle  art. 
Within  these  mansions  he  still  lives,  but,  sick 
With  evil  fortunes,  on  his  sons  pours  forth 
The  most  unholy  curses,  that  this  house 
They  by  the  sword  may  portion  out.     Alarmed 
Lest  Heaven  those  vows  accomplish  if  they  dwell 
Together,  they  by  compact  have  resolved 
The  younger  brother  Polynices  first 
A  voluntary  exile  shall  depart, 
And,  with  Eteocles  remaining  here 
To  wield  the  sceptre  of  this  realm,  exchange 
His  station  year  by  year :  but  th'  elder-born 
Since  he  was  seated  on  the  lofty  throne 
Departs  not  thence,  and  from  this  land  expels 
The  injured  Polynices,  who,  to  Argos 
Repairing,  with  Adrastus  hath  contracted 
Most  strict  affinity,  and  hither  brings 
A  numerous  squadron  of  heroic  youths  ; 


These  bulwarks  for  their  sevenfold  gates  reno^\^led 

E'en  now  in  arms  approaching,  he  demands 

His  father's  sceptre,  and  an  equal  share 

Of  the  domain.     But  I  to  end  their  strife 

On  Polynices  have  prevailed  to  come, 

Under  the  sanction  of  a  warrior's  faith 

And  parley  with  his  brother,  ere  the  hosts 

In  battle  join  :  the  messenger  I  sent 

Informs  me  he  the  summons  will  attend. 

0  thou  who  dwell'st  amidst  Heaven's  lucid  folds, 
Save  us,  dread  Jove,  and  reconcile  my  children  : 
For  thou,  if  thou  art  wise,  wilt  ne'er  permit 
That  one  poor  mortal  should  be  always  wretched, 

[Exit  JOCASTA. 

Antigone,  Attendant. 

Att.  O  fair  Antigone,  illustrious  blossom 
Of  your  paternal  house,  since  from  your  chamber 
Your  mother  hath  allowed  you  to  come  forth 
At  your  request,  and  from  these  roofs  behold 
The  Argive  hosts,  stay  here,  while  I  the  road 
Explore,  lest  in  our  passage,  if  we  meet 
Some  citizen,  malignant  tongues  should  blame 
Both  me,  the  servant,  who  obey,  and  you 
For  giving  such  command.     But  their  whole  camp 
Since  I  have  searched",  to  you  will  I  relate 
All  that  these  eyes  have  witnessed,  and  whate'er 

1  heard  amidst  the  Argives,  when,  employed 
By  both  your  brothers,  I  'twixt  either  host 

Bore  pledges  of  their  compact.     But  these  mansions 
No  citizen  approaches  :  haste,  ascend 
Yon  ancient  stairs  of  cedar,  and  o'erlook 
The  spacious  fields  that  skirt  Ismenos'  stream 
And  Dirce's  fountains.     What  a  host  of  foes  ! 

Ant.  Thy  aged  arm  stretch  forth,  and,  as  I  climb 
The  narrow  height,  my  tottering  steps  sustain. 

Att.  Give  me  your  hand,  for  at  a  lucky  hour 
You  mount  the  turret :  the  Pelasgian  host 
Is  now  in  motion,  and  the  troops  divide. 


Ant.  Thou  venerable  daughter  of  Latona, 
Thrice  sacred  goddess,  Hecate,  how  gleams 
With  brazen  armour  the  whole  field  around  ! 

Att.  For  Polynices  to  his  native  land 
Returns  not  like  a  man  of  little  note, 
But  comes  in  anger,  by  unnumbered  steeds 
Attended,  and  the  loudest  din  of  arms. 

Ant.  Are  the  gates  closed?  What  barriers  guard  the  walls 
Reared  by  Amphion's  skill  ? 

Att.  Be  of  good  cheer. 

The  city  is  made  safe  within.     But  look 
At  him  who  first  advances,  if  you  wish 
To  know  him. 

Ant.  By  those  snowy  plumes  distinguished, 

Before  the  ranks  who  marches  in  the  van, 
With  ease  sustaining  on  his  nervous  arm 
That  brazen  shield  .-• 

Att.  a  general,  royal  maid. 

Ant.  Who  is  he .?     In  what  country  was  he  born, 
Old  man,  infonn  me,  and  what  name  he  bears. 

Att.  Mycene  glories  in  the  warrior's  birth, 
But  near  the  marsh  of  Lema  he  resides ; 
His  name's  Hippomedon,  a  mighty  chief. 

Ant.  Ah,  with  what  pride,  how  terrible  an  aspect, 
How  like  an  earthborn  giant  doth  he  move  ! 
His  targe  with  stars  is  covered,  and  that  air 
Resembles  not  the  feeble  race  of  man. 

Att.  Behold  you  not  the  chief  who  Dirce's  stream 
Is  crossing ! 

Ant.  In  what  different  armour  clad  ! 

But  who  is  he  ? 

Att.  Tydeus,  the  noble  son 

Of  CEneus ;  in  embaitled  fields  his  breast 
With  true  ^tolian  courage  is  inspired. 

Ant.  Is  he,  O  veteran,  husband  to  the  sister 
Of  Polynices'  consort .''     How  arrayed 
In  party-coloured  mail,  a  half  Barbarian  ! 

Att.  All  the  ^Etolians,  O  my  daughter,  armed 
With  bucklers,  can  expertly  hurl  the  lance. 



Ant.  But  whence,  old  man,  art  thou  assured  of  this  ? 

Att.  The  various  figures  wrought  upon  the  shields 
I  noticed  at  the  time  I  from  the  walls 
Went  to  your  brother  with  the  pledge  of  truce  : 
When  these  I  see,  their  wearers  well  I  know. 

Ant.  But  who  is  he  who  moves  round  Zethus  tomb, 
A  youth  with  streaming  ringlets,  and  with  eyes 
Horribly  glaring  ? 

Att.  He  too  is  a  chief. 

Ant.  What  multitudes  in  burnished  armour  clad 
Follow  his  steps ! 

Att.  From  Atalanta  sprur. 

Parthenopaeus  is  the  name  he  bears. 

Ant.  May  Dian,  who  o'er  craggy  mountain  speeds, 
Attended  by  his  mother,  with  her  shafts 
Transpierce  th'  audacious  youth  who  comes  to  sack 
My  city ! 

Att.        These  rash  vows  suppress,  O  daughter, 
For  they  with  justice  these  domains  invade, 
And  therefore  will  the  gods,  I  fear,  discern 
Their  better  cause. 

Ant.  But  where  is  he,  whom  Fate 

Decreed  in  evil  hour  from  the  same  womb 
With  me  to  spring  .?     Say,  O  thou  dear  old  man, 
Where's  Polynices  ? 

Att.  He  beside  the  tomb 

Of  Niobe's  seven  virgin  daughters  stands 
Close  to  Adrastus.     See  you  him  ? 

Ant.  I  see  him, 

But  not  distinctly ;  I  can  just  discern 
A  faint  resemblance  of  that  kindred  form. 
The  image  of  that  bosom.     Would  to  heaven, 
Borne  on  the  skirts  of  yonder  passing  cloud, 
Through  the  ethereal  paths,  I  with  these  feet 
Could  to  my  brother  urge  my  swift  career  ! 
Then  would  I  fling  my  arms  round  the  dear  neck 
Of  him  who  long  hath  been  a  wretched  exile. 
How  gracefully,  in  golden  arms  arrayed, 
Bright  as  Hyperion's  radiant  beams,  he  moves  ! 


Att.  To  fill  your  soul  with  joy,  the  chief,  these  doors, 
Secured  by  an  inviolable  truce, 
Anon  will  enter. 

Ant.  O  thou  aged  man  ; 

But  who  is  he  who  on  yon  chariot,  drawn 
By  milk-white  coursers,  seated,  guides  the  reins  ? 

Att,  The  seer  Amphiareus,  O  royal  maid, 
He  bears  the  victims  that  with  crimson  tides 
Must  drench  the  ground. 

Ant.  Encircled  with  a  zone 

Of  radiance,  O  thou  daughter  of  the  sun, 
Pale  moon,  who  from  his  beams  thy  golden  orb 
Illum'st,  behold  with  what  a  steady  thong 
And  how  discreetly  he  those  coursers  guides  ! 
But  where  is  Capaneus,  who  proudly  utters 
Against  this  city  the  most  horrid  threats  ? 

Att.  To  these  seven  turrets  each  approach  he  marks, 
The  walls  from  their  proud  summit  to  their  base 
Measuring  with  eager  eye. 

Ant.  Dread  Nemesis, 

Ye  too,  O  deep-toned  thunderbolts  of  Jove, 
And  livid  flames  of  lightning  ;  yours,  'tis  yours 
To  blast  such  arrogance.     Is  this  the  man 
Who  vowed  that  he  the  captive  Theban  dames, 
In  slavery  plunged,  would  to  Mycene  lead, 
To  Lerna,  where  the  god  of  ocean  fixed 
His  trident,  whence  its  waters  bear  the  name 
OfAmyone?     But,  O  child  of  Jove, 
Diana,  venerable  queen,  who  bind'st 
Thy  streaming  tresses  with  a  golden  caul. 
Never  may  I  endure  the  loathsome  yoke 
Of  servitude. 

Att.  The  royal  mansion  enter, 

O  daughter,  and  beneath  its  roof  remain 
In  your  apartment,  since  you  have  indulged 
Your  wish,  and  viewed  those  objects  you  desired. 
A  tumult  in  the  city  now  prevails : 
The  women  to  the  palace  rush  in  crowds. 
For  the  whole  female  sex  are  prone  to  slander, 


And  soon  as  they  som3  slight  occasion  find, 

On  which  maligr.Ent  rumours  they  can  ground, 

Add  many  more  :  for  on  such  baneful  themes 

To  them  is  it  delighful  to  converse.  {^Exeunt. 



I.  I. 
Borne  from  Phoenician  shores  I  crossed  the  deep. 
My  tender  years  to  Phoebus  they  consign 
To  sprinkle  incense  on  his  shrine, 
And  dwell  beneath  Parnassus'  steep, 
O'erspread  with  everlasting  snow  : 
Our  dashing  oars  were  plied  in  haste 
Through  the  Ionian  wave,  whose  eddies  flow 
Round  Sicily's  inhospitable  waste  ; 
Then  vernal  zephyrs  breathed  our  s:iils  around, 
And  Heaven's  high-vaulted  roof  conveyed  the  murmuring 

I.   2. 

A  chosen  offering  to  the  Delphic  god, 
I  from  my  native  city  to  this  land, 

Where  aged  Cadmus  bore  command, 

Am  come,  obedient  to  the  nod 

Of  those  who  from  Agenor  spring, 

To  the  proud  towers  of  Laius'  race. 
Our  kindred  governed  by  a  kindred  king. 
Here  stand  I,  like  an  image  on  its  base, 
Though  destined  to  partake  refined  delights, 
Bathe  in  Castalia's  stream,  and  tend  Apollo's  rites. 


O  mountain,  from  whose  cloven  height 

There  darts  a  double  stream  of  light, 
Oft  on  thy  topmost  ridge  the  Menades  are  seen, 
And  thou,  each  day  distilling  generous  wine, 
O  plant  of  Bacchus,  whose  ripe  clusters  shine, 

Blushing  through  the  leafs  faint  green  ; 

Ye  caves,  in.  which  the  Python  lay, 


And  hills,  from  whence  Apollo  twanged  his  bow, 
Around  your  heights  o'erspread  with  snow, 

'Midst  my  loved  virgin  comrades  may  I  stray, 

Each  anxious  fear  expelling  from  my  breast, 

In  the  world's  centre,  that  auspicious  fane 
The  residence  of  Phoebus  blest. 
And  bid  adieu  to  Dirce's  plain. 

II.  I. 
But  now  before  these  walls  doth  Mars  advance, 
And  brandish  slaughter's  flaming  torch  around; 

May  Thebes  ne'er  feel  the  threatened  wound. 

For  to  a  friend  his  friend's  mischance 

Is  grievous  as  his  own  :  each  ill 

That  lights  upon  these  sevenfold  towers 
With  equal  woe  Phoenicia's  realm  must  fill : 
For  Thebes  I  mourn ;  since,  of  one  blood  with  ours 
From  lo's  loves  this  nation  dates  its  birth, 
Those  sorrows  I  partake  which  vex  my  kindred  earth. 

II.  2. 
Thick  as  a  wintiy  cloud  that  phalanx  stands. 
Whose  gleaming  shields  portend  the  bloody  fight, 

The  god  of  war  with  stern  delight 

Shall  to  the  siege  those  hostile  bands 

Lead  on,  and  rouse  the  fiends  to  smite 

The  race  of  an  incestuous  bed  : 
Much,  O  Pelasgian  Argos,  much  thy  might. 
And  more  the  vengeance  of  the  gods  I  dread  ; 
For,  armed  with  justice,  on  his  native  land 
Rushes  that  banished  youth,  the  sceptre  to  demand. 

PoLYNiCES,  Chorus. 
Pol.  They  who  were  stationed  to  observe  the  gates 
Unbarred  them,  and  with  courtesy  received  me 
As  I  the  fortress  entered :  hence  I  fear 
Lest,  now  they  in  their  wily  toils  have  caught, 
They  should  detain  and  slay  me ;  I  with  eyes 
Most  vigilant  must  therefore  look  around 
To  guard  'gainst  treachery  :  but  the  sword  which  arms 


This  hand  shall  give  me  courage.     Ho  !  who's  there  ? 

Doth  a  mere  sound  alarm  me  ?    All  things  seem, 

E'en  to  the  bravest,  dreadful,  when  they  march 

O'er  hostile  ground.     I  in  my  mother  placed 

Firm  confidence,  yet  hardly  can  I  trust 

Her  who  on  me  prevailed  t'  accept  the  pledge 

And  hither  come.     But  I  have  near  at  hand 

A  sure  asylum,  for  the  blazing  altars 

Are  not  remote,  nor  yet  is  yonder  house 

Without  inhabitants.     Be  sheathed  my  sword. 

Those  courteous  nymphs  who  at  the  portals  stand 

I'll  question.     O  ye  foreign  damsels,  say, 

What  was  the  country  whence  to  Greece  ye  came .'' 

Chor.  Phoenicia  is  my  native  land,  I  there 
Was  nurtured  :  but  Agenor's  martial  race 
Me,  the  first  fruit  of  their  victorious  arms, 
A  votive  offering  to  Apollo  sent, 
But  to  the  venerable  prophetic  domes, 
And  blazing  shrines  of  Phoebus,  when  the  son 
Of  CEdipus  prepared  to  have  conveyed  me. 
The  Argives  'gainst  this  city  led  their  host. 
Now  in  return  inform  me  who  thou  art 
Who  com'st  to  Thebes,  o'er  whose  seven  gates  are  reared 
As  many  turrets. 

Pol.  Qidipus,  the  son 

Of  Laius,  was  my  sire  :  Menaeceus'  daughter 
Jocasta  brought  me  forth  ;  the  name  I  bear 
Is  Polynices. 

Chor.  O,  illustrious  king, 

Thou  kinsman  to  Agenor's  race,  my  lords 
By  whom  I  was  sent  hither,  at  thy  feet, 
I  as  the  usage  of  my  country  bids 
Prostrate  myself.     Thou  to  thy  native  land 
After  a  tedious  absence  art  returned. 
But  ho  !  come  forth,  thou  venerable  dame, 
Open  the  doors  !     O  mother  of  the  chief, 
Hear'st  thou  my  voice  ?    Why  yet  dost  thou  delay 
To  cross  the  lofty  palace,  and  with  speed 
In  those  fond  arms  thy  dearest  son  enfold  .-* 



Joe.  Within  the  palace,  O  Phoenician  nymphs, 
Hearing  your  voice,  I  with  a  tardy  step, 
Trembling  through  age,  creep  hither.     O  my  son, 
At  length  I,  after  many  days,  once  more 
Behold  that  face.     Fling  fling  those  arms  around 
The  bosom  of  your  mother  ;  those  loved  cheeks 
Let  me  embrace,  and  with  your  azure  tresses, 
My  neck  o'ershadowing,  mix  my  streaming  hair. 
To  these  maternal  arms  you  scarce  return, 
Till  hope  and  expectation  both  had  failed. 
O  how  shall  I  accost  you,  how  impart 
To  my  whole  frame  the  transports  of  my  soul. 
And  all  around  me,  wheresoe'er  I  turn, 
Bid  pleasures  past  and  distant  years  revive  ? 
My  son,  you  left  this  mansion  of  your  sire 
A  desert,  by  your  haughty  brother  wronged 
And  exiled  from  your  country.     By  each  friend 
How  greatly  hath  your  absence  been  bewailed ! 
How  greatly  by  all  Thebes  !    My  hoary  locks 
Hence  did  1  sever  from  this  aged  head, 
Hence  weeping  utter  many  piteous  notes, 
And,  O  my  son,  the  tissued  robes  of  white 
Which  erst  I  wore,  exchange  for  sable  weeds, 
These  loathed  habiliments.     Within  the  palace 
Your  father,  of  his  eyesight  reft,  bewails 
The  disunited  pillars  of  his  house  : 
Resolved  to  slay  himself,  he  sometimes  strives 
To  rush  on  the  drawn  sword  ;  then  searches  r&und 
For  the  high  beam  to  fix  the  gliding  noose, 
Groaning  forth  imprecations  'gainst  his  son ; 
Thus,  uttering  with  shrill  tone  his  clamorous  plaints. 
He  lives,  encompassed  by  perpetual  night. 
But,  ah  I  my  son,  by  wedlock's  strictest  bonds 
United,  I  am  told  that  you  enjoy 
A  foreign  consort,  in  a  foreign  realm. 
To  vex  your  mother's  soul  and  the  stern  ghost 
Of  Laius  ;  on  such  ill-assorted  nuptials 


Curses  attend.    The  Hymeneal  torch 

I  kindled  not  to  grace  your  spousal  rites, 

As  custom  hath  ordained,  and  it  behoves 

A  happy  mother ;  nor  his  cooling  stream 

To  fill  the  laver  did  Ismenos  yield  ; 

Nor  on  th'  arrival  of  thy  royal  bride 

Through  Thebes  were  festive  acclamations  heard. 

Perish  the  cause  of  this  unnatural  war, 

Be  it  or  sword,  or  discord,  of  your  sire, 

Or  fate,  whose  horrors  revel  in  the  house 

Of  CEdipus  :  for  these  disasters  sling 

My  soul  with  anguish. 

Chor.  Great  endearments  rise 

From  pangs  maternal,  and  all  women  love 
Their  progeny. 

Pol.  Amidst  my  foes  I  come, 

0  mother,  whether  wisely  or  unwisely, 

Great  are  my  doubts  :  but  all  men  are  constrained 

To  love  their  country.     He  who  argues  aught 

Against  a  truth  so  clear  in  empty  words 

Takes  pleasure,  while  his  heart  confutes  his  tongue. 

Yet  with  such  panic  terror  was  I  seized, 

Lest  by  some  stratagem  my  brother  slay  me, 

That,  bearing  a  drawn  falchion  in  my  hand, 

1  cast  my  eyes  around  on  every  side 
As  I  the  city  traversed :  my  sole  trust 

Is  in  the  truce  he  swore  to,  and  thy  faith, 

Which  led  me  to  this  mansion  of  my  sire  : 

Yet  as  I  came  full  many  a  tear  I  shed, 

After  long  absence,  to  behold  the  palace. 

The  sacred  altars  of  the  gods,  that  ring 

Where  wrestlers  strive,  scene  of  my  youthful  sports, 

And  Dirce's  fountain.     Hence  unjustly  driven 

I  in  a  foreign  city  dwell,  and  steep 

These  eyes  in  tears  incessant.     But  to  add 

Grief  to  my  griefs,  thee  with  thy  tresses  shorn 

I  see,  and  in  a  sable  vest  arrayed. 

Wretch  that  I  am  !     How  dreadful  and  how  hard 

To  reconcile,  is  enmity  'twixt  those 


Of  the  same  house,  O  mother  !     But  how  fares 
My  aged  sire  within,  whose  eyes  are  closed 
In  total  darkness  ?  how,  my  sisters  twain  ? 
Bewail  they  not  their  exiled  brother's  fate  ? 

Joe.  Some  god  hath  smitten  the  devoted  house 
Of  CEdipus.     I  first  'gainst  Heaven's  decrees 
Brought  forth  a  son,  and  in  an  evil  hour 
Wedded  that  son,  to  whom  your  owe  your  birth. 
But  wherefore  should  I  dwell  upon  these  scenes 
Of  horror  ?     It  behoves  us  to  bear  up 
Under  the  woes  inflicted  by  the  gods. 
How  shall  I  ask  the  questions  which  I  wish  ? — 
Fearing  to  wound  your  soul— yet  to  propose  them 
Is  my  desire  most  urgent. 

Pol,  Question  me, 

Leave  nought  unsaid  :  for,  O  my  dearest  mother. 
Whatever  is  thy  pleasure  will  to  me 
Seem  grateful. 

Joe  With  what  most  I  wish  to  know 

Will  I  begin  my  questions.     Is  not  exile 
A  grievous  ill  ? 

Pol.  Most  grievous,  and  indeed 

Worse  than  in  name. 

Joe.  How  happens  this  .''    Whence  rises 

The  misery  of  the  banished  man  ? 

Pol,  He's  subject 

To  one  severe  calamity — he  wants 
Freedom  of  speech. 

Joe.  The  wretch  of  whom  you  talk, 

Who  utters  not  his  thoughts,  is  but  a  slave. 

Pol.  The  follies  of  their  rulers  they  must  bear. 

Joe.  This  were  a  piteous  doom,  to  be  constrained 
To  imitate  th'  unwise. 

Pol.  If  gain  ensue, 

We  must  submit,  though  nature's  voice  forbid. 

Joe.  Hopes,  it  is  said,  the  hungry  exile  feed. 

Pol.  With  smiles  they  view  him,  but  are  slow  to  aid. 

Joe.  Doth  not  time  prove  their  falsehood? 

Pol.  They  possess 


An  influence  equal  to  the  Queen  of  Love  ; 
They  banish  every  sorrow  from  the  breast. 

Joe.  But  whence  procured  you  food,  ere  you  obtained 
A  sustenance  by  wedlock  ? 

Pol.  For  the  day 

At  times  I  had  sufficient,  but  at  times 
Was  wholly  destitute. 

Joe.  Your  father's  friends, 

And  they  who  shared  his  hospitable  board, 
Did  they  not  aid  you  ? 

Pol.  Be  thou  ever  blest ! 

For  I'.e  who  is  unhappy  hath  no  friend. 

Joe.  But  did  not  your  illustrious  birth  advance  you 
To  some  exalted  station  1 

Pol.  a  great  curse 

Is  poverty :  this  high  descent  with  food 
Supplied  me  not. 

Joe.  To  all  mankind  it  seems 

Their  native  land's  most  dear. 

Pol.  Words  have  not  power 

1'  express  what  love  I  for  my  country  feel. 

Joe.  But  why  to  Argos  went  you,  what  design 
Had  you  then  formed  ? 

Pol.  Apollo  to  Adrastus 

Pronounced  a  certain  oracle. 

Joe.  What  mean  you  ? 

I  cannot  comprehend. 

Pol.  That  he  in  wedlock 

Should  join  his  daughters  to  the  boar  and  lion. 

Joe.  How  did  the  names  of  these  ferocious  beasts 
Rt-late  to  you,  my  son  ? 

Pol.  I  cannot  tell. 

To  this  adventure  was  I  called  by  fortune. 

Joe.  That  goddess  is  discreet:  but  by  what  means 
Did  you  obtain  your  consort  ? 

Pol.  It  was  nigh 

When  to  Adrastus'  vestibule  I  came. 

Joe.  To  seek  your  lodging,  like  a  banished  vagrant  t 

Pol.  E'en  so  :  and  there  I  met  another  exile. 

Joe.  Who  was  he  ?     Him  most  wretched  too  I  deem. 


Pol.  Tydeus,  the  son  of  CEneus,  I  am  told. 

Joe.  But  wherefore  did  Adrastus  to  wild  beasts 
Compare  you  ? 

Pol.  From  our  fighting  for  a  den. 

Joe.  Did  then  the  son  of  Talaus  thus  expound 
The  oracles  ? 

Pol.  And  on  us  two  bestowed 

His  daughters. 

Joe.  But  have  these  espousals  proved 

Happy,  or  inauspicious  ? 

Pol.  I  have  found 

No  reason  yet  to  curse  the  day  I  wedded. 

Joe.  Yet  how  prevailed  you  on  a  foreign  host 
Hither  to  follow  you  ? 

Pol.  Adrastus  sware 

To  Tydeus  and  myself,  his  sons-in-law 
(Who  now  by  strict  affinity  are  joined), 
That  both  of  us  he  in  our  native  realms 
Will  reinstate,  but  Polynices  first. 
Unnumbered  Argives  and  Mycene's  chiefs 
Crowd  to  my  banners,  a  lamented  succour, 
But  such  as  stern  necessity  demands. 
Affording :  for  my  country  I  invade. 
Yet  witness  for  me,  O  ye  righteous  gods, 
'Tis  with  reluctance  that  I  wield  the  spear 
Against  my  dearest  parents.     But  to  thee, 
O  mother,  it  belongs  to  end  this  strife. 
To  reconcile  two  brothers,  and  to  cause 
My  toils,  and  thine,  and  those  of  Thebes,  to  cease. 
Indulge  me  while  I  quote  an  ancient  maxim  : 
"  Of  human  honours  riches  are  the  source, 
And  rule  with  power  supreme  the  tribes  of  men." 
In  quest  of  wealth  I  hither  come,  and  lead 
Unnumbered  squadrons  to  the  dubious  field. 
For  indigent  nobility  is  scorned. 

Chor.  But  lo  !  Eteocles  himself  repairs 
To  th'  appointed  conference.     In  such  terms 
As  may  restore  peace  'twixt  thy  sons,  be  thine, 
Jocasta,  the  maternal  task  t'  address  them. 


Eteocles,  Polynices,  Jocasta,  Chorus. 

Ete.  With  your  request,  O  mother,  to  comply, 
Hithei  I  come  :  but  what  must  now  be  done  ? 
Let  others  speak  before  me.     For  the  squadrons 
I  round  the  walls  have  marshalled,  and  restrained 
The  ardour  of  the  city,  till  I  hear 
What  terms  of  peace  you  would  propose,  what  views 
Within  these  walls  induced  you  to  receive 
My  brother,  by  the  public  faith  secured, 
Extorting  my  consent. 

Joe.  Yet  pause  awhile ; 

For  haste  is  incompatible  with  justice : 
But  slow  deliberations  oft  effect 
Such  schemes  as  wisdom  dictates.     Lay  aside 
Those  threatening  looks,  that  vehemence  of  soul ; 
For  thou  behold'st  not  the  terrific  head 
Lopped  from  Medusa's  shoulders,  but  behold'st 
Thy  brother  coming.     Your  benignant  eyes, 
O  Polynices,  on  your  brother  turn, 
For  while  you  look  upon  that  kindred  face 
You  will  speak  better,  and  his  words  receive 
With  more  advantage.     Fain  would  I  suggest 
One  act  of  wholesome  prudence  to  you  both  ; 
An  angered  friend,  when  with  his  friend  he  meets, 
Should  at  such  interview  attend  to  nought 
But  those  pacific  schemes  on  which  he  came, 
Their  ancient  broils  forgetting.     'Tis  incumbent 
On  you,  O  Polynices,  to  speak  first. 
Because,  complaining  of  great  wrongs,  you  lead 
An  Argive  army  hither.     May  some  god 
Judge  'twixt  my  sons,  and  reconcile  their  strife  ! 

Pol.  Plain  are  the  words  of  truth,  and  justice  needs 
No  subtlety  t'  interpret,  for  it  bears 
Enough  to  recommend  it :  but  injustice, 
Devoid  of  all  internal  worth,  requires 
Each  specious  art.     My  father's  house,  my  interests. 
His  also,  I  consulted  :  and  the  curse 
Which  CEdipus  had  erst  pronounced  against  us, 


Anxious  to  shun,  from  these  domains  retired 

A  voluntary  exile,  and  to  him 

Surrendered  up  the  sceptre  for  one  year. 

That  in  my  turn  I  might  be  king,  nor  come, 

With  enmity  and  slaughter  in  my  train, 

Those  mischiefs  which  from  discord  must  ensue 

To  act  or  suffer.     He,  who  to  these  terms 

Assented,  and  for  sanctions  of  his  oath 

Invoked  the  gods,  hath  not  accomplished  aught 

Of  his  engagements,  but  still  keeps  the  throne, 

And  o'er  my  portion  of  our  father's  realm 

Without  a  colleague  reigns.     I,  on  receiving 

My  rights,  e'en  now  am  ready  from  this  land 

To  send  the  troops,  and  in  my  palace  rule 

For  an  appointed  time,  then  yield  again 

The  empire  to  my  brother,  nor  lay  waste 

My  country,  nor  the  scaling-ladder  plant 

Against  yon  turrets  :  yet  will  I  attempt 

To  do  all  this,  if  justice  be  denied  me. 

I  call  the  gods  to  witness  these  assertions  : 

That  though  each  solemn  contract  on  my  part 

Hath  been  performed,  I  from  my  native  land 

By  lawless  force  am  driven.     I  have  collected 

No  specious  words,  O  mother,  to  adorn 

Truths  which  with  equal  force  must  strike  the  wise 

And  the  illiterate,  if  I  judge  aright. 

Chor.  To  me,  although  I  in  a  Grecian  realm 
Have  not  been  nurtured,  thou  appear'st  to  speak 
With  much  discretion. 

Ete.  ■  If,  in  their  ideas 

Of  excellence  and  wisdom,  all  concurred. 
No  strife  had  e'er  perplexed  the  human  race. 
But  now,  among  the  tribes  of  men,  are  fit. 
And  right,  and  fair  equality  mere  names, 
In  real  life  no  longer  to  be  found. 
To  you,  O  mother,  I  without  concealment 
Will  speak  my  sentiments  :  I  would  ascend 
The  starry  paths  whence  bursts  the  orient  sun, 
And  plunge  beneath  the  central  earth,  to  win 


Empire,  the  greatest  of  th'  immortal  powers. 

I  therefore  will  not  yield  up  such  a  good 

To  any  other,  but  for  my  own  use 

Retain  it,  O  my  mother  :  for  of  manhood 

Devoid  is  he  who  tamely  bears  the  loss 

Of  what  he  prizes  most,  and  in  its  stead 

Accepts  some  mean  exchange.    Yet  more,  it  shames  me 

That  he,  who  proudly  comes  with  arms  to  lay 

Our  country  waste,  his  wishes  should  obtain. 

For  this  would  be  to  Thebes  a  foul  reproach. 

If,  trembling  at  Mycene's  spear,  I  gave 

To  him  my  sceptre.     Thus  arrayed  in  mail 

He  ought  not  to  negotiate  terms  of  peace. 

For  all  that  by  the  sword  our  haughty  foes 

Hope  to  exact  might  gentle  words  procure. 

If  such  his  pleasure,  he  on  other  terms 

Shall  be  permitted  in  this  land  to  dwell ; 

But  never  can  I  willingly  forego 

That  one  great  object,  nor,  while  sovereign  power 

Is  yet  within  my  reach,  will  I  e'er  stoop 

To  be  his  vassal  :  rather  come,  ye  flames, 

Ye  falchions  ;  let  the  warrior  steed  be  harnessed, 

With  brazen  chariots  cover  all  the  field, 

I  never  will  surrender  up  my  throne. 

Since,  if  we  must  o'erleap  the  narrow  bounds 

Of  justice,  for  an  empire,  to  transgress 

Were  glorious ;  we  in  every  point  beside 

Are  bound  to  act  as  virtue's  rules  enjoin. 

Chor.  No  ornaments  of  speech  to  evil  deeds 
Are  due,  for  justice  hates  such  borrowed  charms. 

Joe.  Believe  me,  O  Eteocles  my  son, 
Old  age  is  not  by  wretchedness  alone 
Attended  :  more  discreetly  than  rash  youth 
Experience  speaks.     Why  dost  thou  woo  ambition. 
That  most  malignant  goddess  ?    O  forbear  ! 
For  she's  a  foe  to  justice,  and  hath  entered 
Full  many  a  mansion,  many  a  prosperous  city, 
Nor  left  them  till  in  ruin  she  involves 
All  those  who  harbour  her  :  yet  this  is  she 


On  whom  thou  doat'st,     'Tvvere  better,  O  my  son, 

To  cultivate  equaUty,  who  joins 

Friends,  cities,  lieroes  in  one  steadfast  league ; 

For  by  the  laws  of  nature,  through  the  world 

Equality  was  'stablished  :  but  the  wealthy 

Finds  in  the  poorer  man  a  constant  foe ; 

Hence  bitter  enmity  derives  its  source. 

Equality,  among  the  human  race, 

Measures,  and  weights,  and  numbers  hath  ordained  : 

Both  the  dark  orb  of  night  and  radiant  sun 

Their  annual  circuits  equally  perform  ; 

Each,  free  from  envy,  to  the  other  yields 

Alternately  ;  thus  day  and  night  afford 

Their  services  to  man.     Yet  wilt  not  thou 

Be  satisfied  to  keep  an  equal  portion 

Of  these  domains,  and  to  thy  brother  give 

His  due.     Where  then  is  justice  ?     Such  respect 

As  sober  reason  disapproves,  why  pay's!  thou 

To  empire,  to  oppression  crowned  with  triumph  ? 

To  be  a  public  spectacle  thou  deem'st 

Were  honourable.     'Tis  but  empty  pride. 

When  thou  hast  much  already,  why  submit 

To  toils  unnumbered  t    What's  superfluous  wealth 

But  a  mere  name  t    Sufficient  to  the  wise 

Is  competence  :  for  man  possesses  nought 

Which  he  can  call  his  own.     Though  for  a  time 

What  bounty  the  indulgent  gods  bestow 

We  manage,  they  resume  it  at  their  will : 

Unstable  riches  vanish  in  a  day. 

Should  I  to  thee  th'  alternative  propose 

Either  to  reign,  or  save  thy  native  land, 

Couldst  thou  reply  that  thou  hadst  rather  reign  ? 

But  if  he  conquer,  and  the  Argive  spears 

O'erpower  the  squadrons  who  from  Cadmus  spring, 

Thou  wilt  behold  Thebes  taken,  wilt  behold 

Our  captive  virgins  ravished  by  the  foe  : 

That  empire  which  thou  seek'st  will  prove  the  bane 

Of  thy  loved  country  ;  yet  thou  still  persist'st 

In  mischievous  ambition's  wild  career. 


Thus  far  to  thee.     And  now  to  you  I  speak, 
O  Polynices ;  favours  most  unwise 
Are  those  Adrastus  hath  on  you  bestowed, 
And  with  misjudging  fury  are  you  come 
To  spread  dire  havoc  o'er  your  native  land. 
If  you  (which  may  the  righteous  gods  avert  !) 
This  city  take,  how  will  you  rear  the  trophies 
Of  such  a  battle  ?     How,  when  you  have  laid 
Your  country  waste,  th'  initiatory  rites 
Perform,  and  slay  the  victims  ?     On  the  banks 
Of  Inachus  displayed,  with  what  inscription 
Adorn  the  spoils — "  From  blazing  Thebes  these  shields 
Hath  Polynices  won,  and  to  the  gods 
Devoted  "  ?     Never,  O  my  son,  through  Greece 
May  you  obtain  such  glory.     But  if  you 
Are  vanquished  and  Eteocles  prevail, 
To  Argos,  leaving  the  ensanguined  field 
Strewn  with  unnumbered  corses  of  the  slain. 
How  can  you  flee  for  succour  ?     'Twill  be  said 
By  some  malignant  tongue  :  "  A  curst  alliance 
Is  this  which,  O  Adrastus,  thou  hast  formed  : 
».  We  to  the  nuptials  of  one  virgin  owe 
Our  ruin."     You  are  hastening,  O  my  son, 
Into  a  twofold  mischief :  losing  all 
That  you  attempt,  and  causing  your  brave  friends 
To  perish.     O  my  sons,  this  wild  excess 
Of  rage,  with  joint  concurrence,  lay  aside. 
By  equal  folly  when  two  chiefs  inspired 
To  battle  rush,  dire  mischief  must  ensue. 

Chor.  Avert  these  woes,  and  reconcile  the  sons 
Of  Oidipus,  ye  gods. 

Ete.  No  strife  of  words 

Is  ours,  O  mother  ;  we  but  waste  the  time, 
And  all  your  care  avails  not.     For  no  peace 
Can  we  conclude  on  any  other  terms 
Than  those  already  named — that  I,  still  wielding 
The  sceptre,  shall  be  monarch  of  this  land  : 
Then  leave  me  to  myself,  and  cease  to  urge 
These  tedious  admonitions.     As  for  thee. 


O  Polynices,  from  these  walls  depart, 
Or  thou  shall  die. 

Pol.  By  whom  1     Who  can  be  found 

Invulnerable  enough,  with  reeking  sword 
To  strike  me  dead,  yet  'scape  the  self-same  fate  ? 

Ete.  Beside  thee,  and  not  distant  far  he  stands. 
Seest  thou  this  arm  ? 

Pol.  I  see  it :  but  wealth  makes 

Its  owners  timid,  and  too  fond  of  life. 

Ete.  Art  thou  come  hither  with  a  numerous  host 
'Gainst  him  thou  count'st  a  dastard  in  the  field  ? 

Pol.  a  cautious  general's  better  than  a  bold. 

Ete.  Thou  on  that  compact,  which  preserves  th\'  life, 
Too  haughtily  presum'st. 

Pol.  Again  I  claim 

The  sceptre  and  my  portion  of  this  realm. 

Ete,  Ill-founded  is  thy  claim,  for  I  will  dwell 
In  my  own  house. 

Pol.  Retaining  to  yourself 

More  than  your  share  ? 

Ete.  The  words  which  I  pronounce 

Are  these  :  Depart  thou  from  the  Theban  land. 

Pol.  Ye  altars  of  my  loved  paternal  gods — 

Ete.  Which  thou  art  come  to  plunder — 

Pol.  Hear  my  voice. 

Ete.  What  deity  will  hear  thee,  'gainst  thy  country 
While  thus  thou  wagest  war .-' 

Pol.  And  ye  abodes 

Of  those  two  gods  on  milk-white  coursers  borne. 

Ete.  Who  hate  thee. 

Pol.  From  the  mansions  of  my  sire 

Am  I  expelled. 

Ete.  Because  thou  hither  cam'st 

Those  mansions  to  destroy. 

Pol.  Thence  was  I  driven 

With  foul  injustice.     O  ye  powers  divine  I 

Ete.  Go  to  Mycene  ;  there,  and  not  at  Thebes, 
Invoke  the  gods. 

Pol.  You  trample  on  the  laws. 


Ete.  Yet  am  not  I,  like  thee,  my  country's  foe. 

Pol.  Reft  of  my  portion,  while  you  drive  me  forth 
An  exile. 

Ete.       Thee  moreover  will  I  slay. 

Pol.  Hear'st  thou  what  wrongs,  my  father,  I  endure  ? 

Ete.  Thy  actions  too  have  reached  his  ears. 

Pol.  And  you, 

My  mother. 

Ete.  Thou  thy  mother  canst  not  name 

Without  a  profanation, 

Pol.  O  thou  city  ! 

Ete.  To  Argos  haste,  and  there  invoke  the  pool 
Of  Lerna. 

Pol.         I  depart :  forbear  to  grieve 
For  me,  O  mother,  but  accept  my  praise. 

Ete.  From  these  domains  avaunt ! 

Pol.  Before  I  go, 

Permit  me  to  behold  our  sire. 

Ete.  Thou  shall  not 

Obtain  this  boon. 

Pol.  My  virgin  sisters  then. 

Ete.  Them,  too,  thou  ne'er  shalt  see. 

Pol.  Alas!  dear  sisters! 

Ete.  Why  nam'st  thou  those  to  whom  thou    art    most 
hateful  ? 

Pol.  Joy  to  my  mother  ! 

Joc.  Have  I  any  cause 

For  joy,  my  son  ? 

Pol.  No  longer  am  I  yours. 

Joc.  Full  many  and  most  grievous  are  my  woes. 

Pol.  Because  he  wrongs  me. 

Ete.  Equal  are  the  wrongs 

I  suffer. 

Pol.       Where  will  you  your  station  take 
Before  yon  turrets .'' 

Ete.  For  what  purpose  ask 

This  question  i 

Pol.  I  in  battle  am  resolved 

To  meet  and  slay  you. 


Ete.  The  same  wish  now  fires 

My  inmost  soul. 

Joe.  Alas  I  my  sons,  what  mean  ye  ? 

Ete.  The  fcCt  itself  must  show. 

Joe.  Will  ye  not  shun 

The  curses  of  your  sire  1 

Ete.  Perdition  seize 

On  our  whole  house !     Soon  shall  my  sword,  embrued 

With  gore,  no  longer  in  its  scabbard  rest. 


Pol    Thou  soil  which  nurtured  me,  and  every  god, 
Bear  witness,  that  with  insults  and  with  wrongs 
O'erwhelmed  I  from  my  country,  like  a  slave, 
Not  like  the  son  of  Oi^dipus,  am  driven. 
Whate'er  thou  suffer,  O  thou  city,  blame. 
Not  me,  but  him  :  for  I  was  loth  t'  invade 
This  land,  and  with  reluctance  now  depart. 
Thou  too,  O  Phcebus,  mighty  king,  who  guard'st 
These  streets,  ye  palaces,  my  youthful  comrades. 
Farewell  I  and,  O  ye  statues  of  the  gods, 
Drenched  with  the  blood  of  victims  1 — for  I  know  not 
Whether  I  ever  shall  accost  you  more. 
But  hope  yet  sleeps  not,  and  in  her  I  place 
My  trust,  that  with  Heaven's  aid  I  shall  enjoy 
The  Theban  realm,  when  I  have  slain  this  boaster. 


Ete.  Leave  these  domains  :  a  forethought  by  the  gods 
Inspired,  my  father  prompted,  when  on  thee 
The  name  of  Polynices,  to  denote 
Abundance  of  contention,  he  bestowed. 

{Exit  Eteocles. 

,  Chorus. 


Erst  to  this  land  the  Tyrian  Cadmus  came. 

When  at  his  feet  a  heifer  lay. 
Who  in  the  meads  unyoked  was  wont  to  stray, 
Fulfilling  Heaven's  response,  well  known  to  fame. 

And  marked  the  spot  where  he  should  dwell : 


The  oracle  announced  this  fruitful  ground 
For  his  abode,  where,  from  her  Hmpid  well, 
Fair  Dirce  spreads  a  cooling  stream  around, 
And  on  her  banks  are  vernal  blossoms  found  : 

Compressed  by  amorous  Jove 
Here  Semele  tlie  ruddy  Bromius  bore, 
Whom  ivy  with  luxuriant  tendrils  strove 
In  infancy  to  mantle  o'er 
And  round  his  happy  brows  to  spread. 
Hence,  in  bacchanalian  dance, 
With  light  and  wanton  tread 
The  Theban  nymphs  advance, 
And  matrons  all  their  cares  resign, 
Gay  votaries  to  the  god  of  wine. 


Mars  at  the  fount  its  ruthless  guardian  placed. 

On  scaly  folds  a  dragon  rode, 
Wild  glared  his  eyes,  in  vain  the  waters  flowed, 
Nor  dared  the  thirsting  passenger  to  taste  ; 

Advancing  with  undaunted  tread 
To  draw  libations  for  the  powers  divine, 
A  ponderous  stone  full  on  the  monster's  head 
Cadmus  discharged,  then  seized  and  pierced  his  chine 
With  frequent  wounds  ;  so  Pallas  did  enjoin: 

This  done,  the  teeth  he  sowed, 
And  instantly,  dire  spectacle,  a  train. 
All  clad  in  mail,  on  earth's  torn  surface  glowed  ; 
Soon  was  each  hardy  warrior  slain, 
And  to  the  soil  which  gave  him  birth 
Joined  once  more  :  a  crimson  flood 
Moistened  the  lap  of  earth ; 
By  parching  winds  their  blood 
Was  visited,  and  still  remain 
Its  marks  on  the  discoloured  plain. 


To  thee,  O  Epaphus,  the  child  of  Jove, 
Sprung  from  our  grandame  lo's  love, 
I  cried  in  a  barbaric  strain ; 


O  visit,  visit  this  once  favoured  plain 

Wliich  thy  descendants  call  their  own. 
Two  goddesses  by  countless  votaries  known,     - 
Proserpina,  dread  queen,  who  from  our  birth 
Conducts  us  to  the  tomb,  with  Ceres  the  benign, 
E'en  she  whose  foodful  shrine 
Is  thronged  by  every  denizen  of  earth, 

From  earliest  days  this  realm  possessed  ; 
With  lambent  glories  on  their  front  displayed, 
O  send  them  to  its  aid  ; 
Nought  can  withstand  a  god's  request. 

Eteocles,  Chorus. 
Ete.  [(0  one  of  his  Attendants.]  Go  thou,  and  hither 
bring  Menaeceus'  son, 
Creon,  the  noble  brother  of  Jocasta, 
My  mother  ;  tell  him,  on  my  own  affairs. 
And  on  the  public  interests  of  the  state, 
With  him  I  would  consult,  ere  host  opposed 
To  host  in  battle  meet  and  launch  the  spear. 
But  lo  !  he  is  at  hand  to  spare  thy  feet 
The  toil  of  this  their  errand  :  I  behold  him 
Approach  the  palace. 

Creon,  Eteocles,  Chorus. 

Cre.  I  to  every  gate 

And  every  sentinel,  my  royal  lord, 
Have  gone  in  quest  of  you. 

Ete.  Thee,  too,  I  longed, 

O  Creon,  to  behold :  for  I  have  found 
Treaties  for  peace  all  fruitless  since  I  spoke 
With  Polynices. 

Cre.  He,  I  hear,  looks  down 

With  scorn  on  Thebes,  trusting  in  his  ally 
Adrastus,  and  that  numerous  Argive  host. 
But  we  to  the  decision  of  the  gods 
Must  now  refer.     Most  urgent  are  th'  affairs 
Of  which  1  come  to  tell. 

Ete.  What  means  my  friend  ? 

Thy  words  I  comprehend  not. 


Cre.  From  the  camp 

Of  Argos  a  deserter  came. 

Ete.  To  bring 

Some  recent  tidings  of  what  passes  there  ? 

Cre.  Their  host,  he  says,  arrayed  in  ghttering  mail, 
Will  instantly  besiege  the  Theban  towers. 

Ete.  The  valiant  race  of  Cadmus  from  these  gates 
Must  sally  forth,  to  guard  their  native  land. 

Cre.  What  mean  you  ?    Sees  not  your  impetuous  youth 
Our  strength  in  a  false  light  ? 

Ete.  Without  the  trenches, 

To  show  that  we  are  ready  for  the  combat. 

Cre.  Few  are  the  Theban  squadrons,  but  the  number 
Of  theirs  is  great. 
Ete.  In  words  I  know  them  brave. 

Cre.  The  fame  of  Argos  through  all  Greece  resounds. 
Ete.  Be  of  good  cheer  ;  I  with  their  corses  soon 
These  fields  will  cover. 

Cre.  With  your  wishes  mine 

Concur :  but  I  foresee  that  such  emprise 
Abounds  with  heaviest  dangers. 

Ete.  Be  assured 

I  will  not  coop  my  host  within  the  walls. 
Cre.  On  prudent  counsels  our  success  depends. 
Ete,  Wouldst  thou  persuade  me  therefore  to  attempt 
Some  other  method .'' 

Cre.  Ere  you  risk  cur  fate 

On  one  decisive  battle,  have  recourse 
To  all  expedients. 

Ete.  What  if  I  rush  forth 

From  ambush,  and  encounter  them  by  night  ? 

Cre.  Could  you  return,  if  worsted,  and  take  shelter 
Within  these  walls  ? 

Ete.  Night  to  both  hosts  affords 

The  same  impediments ;  but  they  fare  best 
Who  give  th'  assault. 

Cre.  'Tis  terrible  to  rush 

On  danger  'midst  the  thickest  clouds  of  darkness. 

Ete.  Shall  I  then  launch  the  javelin,  while  they  sit 
Around  the  genial  board  ? 


Cre,  This  might  alarm  them  ; 

Our  business  is  to  conquer. 

Ete.  Dirce's  channel, 

Which  they  must  cross  iu  their  retreat,  is  deep. 

Cre.  All  schemes  you  can  propose  are  less  expedient 
Than  if  you  with  a  prudent  caution  act. 

Ete.  But  what  if  we  with  cavalry  attack 
The  Argive  camp  } 

Cre.  On  every  side  the  host 

With  chariots  is  secured. 

Ete.  What  then  remains 

For  me  to  do  ?    Must  I  surrender  up 
This  city  to  our  foes  t 

Cre.  Not  thus  ;  exert 

Your  wisdom,  and  deliberate. 

Ete.  What  precaution, 

Think'st  thou,  were  most  discreet  ? 

Cre.  I  am  informed 

They  have  seven  champions. 

Ete.  Wiiat's  the  task  assigned 

For  them  t'  effect  ?    Their  strength  can  be  but  small. 

Cre.  To  head  as  many  bands,  and  storm  each  gate. 

Ete.  How  then  shall  we  proceed  ?     For  I  disdain 
To  sit  inactive. 

Cre.  On  your  part  select 

Seven  warriors  who  the  portals  may  defend. 

Ete.  O'er  squadrons  to  preside,  or  take  their  stand 
As  single  combatants  ? 

Cre.  To  lead  seven  squadrons, 

Choosing  the  bravest. 

Ete.  Well  I  understand 

Thy  purpose ;  to  prevent  the  foe  from  scaling 
The  ramparts. 

Cre.  Comrades  of  experience  add ; 

For  one  man  sees  not  all. 

Ete.  Shall  I  to  valour 

Or  wisdom  give  the  preference 

Cre.  Join  them  both ; 

For  one  without  the  other  is  a  thing 
Of  no  account. 


Ete.  It  shall  be  done.    I'll  march 

Into  the  city,  place  at  every  gate 
A  chief,  as  thou  hast  counselled,  and  the  troops 
Distribute  so  that  we  on  equal  terms 
May  with  the  foe  engage.     It  would  be  tedious 
The  name  of  every  warrior  to  recount, 
Just  at  this  moment,  when  beneath  our  walls 
The  enemy  is  posted.     But  with  speed 
I  go,  that  I  in  action  may  not  prove 
A  loiterer.     May  it  be  my  lot  to  meet 
My  brother  hand  to  hand,  that  with  this  spear 
I  'midst  the  lines  of  battle  may  transfix 
And  kill  that  spoiler,  who  is  come  to  lay 
My  country  waste.     I  to  thy  care  entrust 
The  nuptials  of  Antigone,  my  sister, 
And  thy  son  Haemon,  if  it  be  my  fate 
To  perish  in  the  combat,  and  enforce 
Our  former  contract  with  my  dying  breath. 
Thou  art  Jocasta's  brother :  of  what  use 
Are  many  words  .'*     My  mother  in  such  rank 
Maintain  as  suits  thy  honour  and  the  love 
Thou  bear'st  me.     As  for  my  unhappy  sire, 
To  his  own  folly  are  his  sufferings  due, 
Bereft  of  eyesight ;  him  I  cannot  praise. 
For  by  his  curses  would  he  slay  us  both. 
One  thing  have  we  omitted — -of  the  seer 
Tiresias  to  inquire  if  he  have  aught 
Of  Heaven's  obscure  responses  to  disclose. 
Thy  son,  Menaeceus  from  his  grandsire  named, 
To  fetch  the  prophet  hither  will  I  send, 
O  Creon,  for  he  gladly  will  converse 
With  thee  :  but  I  so  scornfully  have  treated, 
E'en  in  his  i)resence,  the  whole  soothsayer's  art, 
That  he  abhors  me.     But  I,  on  the  city 
And  thee,  O  Creon,  this  injunction  lay  : 
If  I  prove  stronger,  suffer  not  the  corse 
Of  Polynices  in  this  Theban  realm 
To  be  interred  :  let  death  be  the  reward 
Of  him  who  scatters  dust  o'er  his  remains, 


Although  he  be  the  dearest  of  my  friends. 

Thus  far  to  thee — but  to  my  followers  this 

I  add  :  bring  forth  my  shield,  my  helm,  my  greaves, 

And  radiant  mail,  that  by  victorious  justice 

Accompanied,  I  instantly  may  rush 

Amidst  the  fray  which  waits  me.     But  to  prudence, 

Who  best  of  all  th'  immortal  powers  protects 

The  interests  of  her  votaries,  let  us  pray 

That  she  this  city  would  from  ruin  save. 

\^Exit  Eteocles. 


How  long,  stern  Mars,  shall  scenes  of  death  inspire 
Aversion  to  the  feasts  gay  Bacclius  holds  ? 
Why  join'st  thou  not  the  beauteous  virgin  choir 
Whose  heaving  bosoms  love's  first  warmth  unfolds, 
Thy  hair's  loose  ringlets  waving  o'er  thy  face, 
Pleased  on  some  amorous  theme  the  lute  t'  employ, 
Dear  to  the  Graces,  dear  to  social  joy  ? 
But  thou,  a  foe  to  the  devoted  race 
Of  Theb^,  lead'st  these  Argives  to  their  fields. 
Forming  dire  preludes  for  a  tragic  dance  ; 
Nor  with  the  god  whose  hand  the  thyrsus  wields. 
In  dappled  skins  of  hinds  dost  thou  advance  ; 
Exulting  in  the  thong  and  harnessed  steeds, 
Thou  driv'st  thy  chariot  o'er  Ismenos*  meads, 
And  'gainst  th'  invaders,  in  each  Theban  breast 
Infusing  equal  rancour,  promp'st  that  band, 
Seed  of  the  dragon's  teeth,  to  take  their  stand  ; 
These  rush  to  guard  the  walls,  and  those  t'  invest. 
Inhuman  goddess,  Discord,  to  the  kings 
Of  Labdacus'  house  a  train  of  misery  brings. 

With  sacred  foliage  ever  clad,  ye  groves 
Of  famed  Cithasron,  whose  steep  cliffs  abound 
With  sylvan  game,  thou  mount  where  Dian  loves 
To  urge  through  drifted  snows  the  rapid  hound. 

?8  '  EURIPIDES. 

Thou  ought'st  not  to  have  nourished  in  thy  shade 
Jocasta's  son  ;  then  better  had  he  died 
When,  cast  forth  from  the  palace,  on  thy  side 
In  ghttering  vest  the  royal  child  was  laid  : 
Nor  ought  the  Sphynx,  the  curse  of  these  domains, 
That  subtle  virgin,  to  have  winged  her  way 
From  thy  proud  heights  with  inauspicious  strains  ; 
Armed  with  four  talons,  clenched  to  rend  her  prey, 
These  wails  approaching,  high  into  the  air 
The  progeny  of  Cadmus  did  she  bear, 
By  Pluto  sent  from  hell,  'gainst  Thebes  she  came. 
New  v/oes  the  sons  of  Qidipus  await, 
Again  this  city  feels  the  scourge  of  fate, 
For  virtue  springs  not  from  the  couch  of  shame  ; 
Fruits  of  th'  incestuous  womb,  their  sire's  disgrnce, 
Are  these  devoted  youths,  accurst  and  spurious  race. 


Erst  thy  teeming  soil  gave  birth 
(As  in  barbaric  accents  was  made  known 

To  us  by  ihe  loud  voice  of  fame), 
O  Thebes,  to  that  illustrious  brood  of  earth, 
Sprung  from  the  teeth  of  that  slain  dragon  sown, 

Thy  realm  their  prowess  did  adorn. 
In  honour  of  Harmonia's  bridal  morn. 

To  this  favoured  region  came 
All  the  celestial  choir, 
What  time  the  turrets,  which  this  grateful  land 
Impregnable  by  human  force  esteems. 
Reared  by  the  harp,  and  not  the  artist's  hand, 

Obedient  to  Amphion's  lyre, 

Arose  amidst  the  fruitful  meads 
Where  gentle  Dirce  leads 
Her  current,  and  Ismenos'  waters  yield 

Abundant  verdure  to  the  field 

Encompassed  by  their  streams. 
She,  whom  a  heifer's  horned  front  disguised, 
lo,  was  mother  to  the  Theban  kings  : 
Successively,  each  bliss  by  mortals  prized. 


Hath  to  Ihis  city  given  renown, 
And  hither  still  fair  victory  brings 
The  noblest  meed  of  war,  the  laurel's  deathless  crown. 


TiR.  \Jo  his  daughter  Manto.]  Lead  on  ;  for  thou, 
my  daughter,  to  the  feet 
Of  thy  blind  father,  prov'st  an  eye  as  sure 
As  to  the  mariners  the  polar  star. 
Place  me  where  I  on  level  ground  may  tread, 
And  go  before,  lest  we  both  fall :  thy  sire 
Is  feeble.     In  thy  virgin  hand  preserve 
Those  oracles  which  I  in  former  days 
Received,  when  from  the  feathered  race  I  drew 
My  auguries,  and  in  the  sacred  chair 
Of  prophecy  was  seated.     Say,  thou  youth 
Menaeceus,  son  of  Creon,  through  the  city 
How  far  must  I  proceed  before  I  reach 
Thy  father,  for  my  knees  can  scarce  support  me. 
And  though  full  oft  I  raise  these  aching  feet, 
I  seem  to  gain  no  ground. 

Cre.  Be  of  good  cheer, 

Tiresias,  for  with  well-directed  step 
Already  have  you  reached  your  friend.     My  son, 
Support  him  :  for  the  chariot,  and  the  foot 
Of  an  infirm  old  man,  is  wont  to  need 
The  kind  assistance  of  some  guiding  hand. 

TiR.  No  matter.     I  am  here.     Why  with  such  haste, 

0  Creon,  call'st  thou  me  ? 

Cre.  I  have  not  yet 

Forgotten  ;  but  till  your  exhausted  strength 
Can  be  recovered  after  the  fatigue 
Of  your  long  march,  take  breath. 

TiR.  With  wearied  step 

1  yesterday  came  hither  from  the  realm 
Of  Athens,  for  there  also  was  a  war 
Against  Eumolpus,  o'er  whose  troops  I  caused 
The  dauntless  race  of  Cecrops  to  prevail  : 
Hence  I  possess  the  golden  crown  thou  seest, 


As  a  first  fruit  selected  from  the  spoils 
Of  foes  discomfited. 

Cre.  That  crown  I  deem 

An  omen  of  success.     You  know  the  storm 
Which  threatens  us  from  yonder  Argive  host 
And  what  a  mighty  conflict  now  impends 
O'er  the  inhabitants  of  Thebes.     Our  king 
Eleocles,  in  brazen  arms  arrayed, 
To  face  Mycene's  squadrons  is  gone  forth, 
But  hath  with  me  a  strict  injunction  left, 
To  learn  of  you  what  can  with  most  effect 
By  us  be  done  the  city  to  preserve. 

TiR.  This  mouth,  I  on  Etcocles' account 
Still  closing,  would  for  ever  have  suppressed 
Heaven's  dread  response,  but  will  to  thee  unfold  it 
Since  'tis  thy  wish  to  hear.     This  land,  O  Creon, 
Hath  been  diseased  since  Laius  'gainst  the  will 
Of  Heaven  became  a  father,  and  begot 
The  wretched  QLdipus,  his  mother's  husband, 
Whose  eyes,  torn  out  by  his  own  hand,  the  gods 
Wisely  ordained  should  to  all  Greece  afford 
A  dread  example  ;  which,  in  striving  long 
To  cover  from  the  knowledge  of  the  world, 
His  sons,  as  if  they  thought  to  have  escaped 
Heaven's  eye,  with  a  presumptuous  folly  sinned  : 
For  to  their  father  yielding  no  respect, 
Nor  loosing  him  from  prison,  they  embittered 
The  anguish  of  a  miserable  man  : 
At  once  afflicted  by  disease  and  shnme. 
Those  horrid  execrations  he  poured  forth 
Against  them  both  :  "  What  have  I  left  undone, 
Or  what  unsaid,  though  all  my  zeal  but  served 
To  make  me  hated  by  th'  unnatural  sons 
Of  (Edipus  ?  "     But  by  each  other's  hand, 
Them  soon  shall  death  o'ertake,  O  Creon  ;  heaps 
On  heaps  of  carnage  cover  all  the  plain, 
And  Argive  weapons  mingling  with  the  shafts 
Of  Cadmus'  race,  through  the  whole  Theban  land 
Cause  bitter  plaints.     Thou  too,  O  wretched  city, 


Shalt  be  destroyed,  unless  my  counsels  meet 

With  one  who  will  obey  them.     What  were  most 

To  be  desired  were  this  :  that  none  who  spring 

From  CEdipus  should  here  reside,  or  hold 

The  sceptre  of  this  land,  for  they,  impelled 

By  the  malignant  demons,  will  o'erthrow 

The  city.     But,  since  evil  thus  prevails 

O'er  good,  one  other  method  yet  remains 

To  save  us.     But  unsafe  were  it  for  me 

Such  truths  to  utter,  and,  on  bitter  terms, 

Must  they  whom  Fate  selects  their  country  heal. 

I  go  :  farewell !     I,  as  a  private  man, 

Shall  suffer,  if  necessity  ordain, 

With  multitudes,  the  evils  which  impend : 

For  how  can  I  escape  the  general  doom  ? 

Cre.  Here  tarry,  O  my  venerable  friend. 

TiR.  Detain  me  not. 

Cre.  Stay ;  wherefore  would  you  fly  ? 

TiR.  It  is  thy  fortune  which  from  thee  departs, 
And  not  Tiresias. 

Cre.  By  what  means,  inform  me, 

Can  Thebes  with  its  inhabitants  be  saved  ? 

TiR.  Though  such  thy  wish  at  present,  thou  ere  long 
Wilt  change  thy  purpose. 

Cre.  How  can  I  be  loth 

To  save  my  country  ? 

TiR.  Art  thou  anxious  then 

To  hear  the  truth  ? 

Cre.  What  ought  I  to  pursue 

With  greater  zeal  ? 

Tir.  Thou  instantly  shall  hear 

The  oracles  Heaven  sends  me  to  unfold : 
But  first  assure  me  where  Menaeceus  is, 
Who  led  me  hither. 

Cre.  At  your  side  he  stands. 

Tir.  Far  hence  let  him  retire,  while  I  disclose 
To  thee  the  awful  mandate  of  the  gods. 

Cre.  My  son  with  th'  utmost  strictness  will  observe 
The  silence  you  enjoin. 

192  EUklPIDES. 

TiR.  Is  it  thy  will 

That  in  his  presence  I  to  thee  should  speak  ? 

Cue.  Of  aught  that  could  preserve  his  native  land 
He  with  delight  would  hear. 

TiR.  Then,  to  the  means 

Which  through  my  oracles  are  pointed  out, 
Yield  due  attention  ;  for  by  acting  thus 
Ye  shall  preserve  this  city,  where  the  race 
Of  Cadmus  dwell ;  thou,  in  thy  country's  cause, 
Thy  son  Menaeceus  art  ordained  to  slay  : 
Since  thou  on  me  importunately  cali'st 
The  dread  behest  of  fortune  to  unfold, 

Cre.  What  say  you  ?  How  unwelcome  are  these  words, 

0  aged  man ! 

TiR.  I  only  speak  of  things 

Just  as  they  are  ;  and  add,  thou  must  perform 
Th'  iniunction. 

Cre.  How  much  evil  have  you  uttered 

In  one  short  moment  ! 

Tir.  Though  to  thee  unwelcome, 

Yet  to  thy  country  fame  and  health. 

Cre.  Your  words 

1  hear  not,  nor  your  purpose  comprehend  : 
The  city  I  abandon  to  its  fate. 

Tir.  His  purpose  he  retracts,  and  is  no  longer 
The  man  he  was. 

Cre.  Depart  in  peace  ;  I  need  not 

Your  oracles. 

Tir.  Hath  truth  then  lost  its  merit, 

Because  thou  art  unhappy  ? 

Cre.  By  those  knees, 

You  I  implore,  and  by  those  hoary  locks. 

Tir.  Why  sue  to  me  }   The  ills  'gainst  which  thou  pray*sl 
Are  not  to  be  avoided. 

Cre.  Peace  !     Divulge  not 

In  Thebes  these  tidings. 

TiR.  Dost  thou  bid  me  act 

Unjustly  ?     Them  I  never  will  suppress. 

Cre.  What  is  your  purpose,  to  destroy  my  son  ? 


TiR.  Let  others  see  to  that :  I  only  speak 
As  Heaven  ordains. 

Cre.  But  whence  was  such  a  curse 

On  me  and  on  my  progeny  derived? 

TiR.  Well  hast  thou  asked  this  question,  and  a  field 
For  our  debate  laid  open.      In  yon  den, 
Where  erst  the  guard  of  Dirce's  fountain  lay. 
That  earth-born  dragon,  must  the  youth  pour  forth 
His  blood  for  a  libation  to  the  ground. 
And  expiate  by  his  death  the  ancient  hate 
To  Cadmus  borne  by  Mars,  who  thus  avenges 
The  progeny  of  earth,  the  dragon,  slain  : 
This  done,  the  god  of  battles  will  become 
Your  champion  ;  and  when  earth  shall,  in  the  stead 
Of  her  lost  fruit  the  dragon,  have  received 
The  fruit  of  that  heroic  race  who  sprung 
From  its  own  teeth,  and  human  blood  for  blood, 
Propitious  shall  ye  find  the  teeming  soil. 
Which  erst,  instead  of  wheat,  produced  a  crop 
Of  radiant  helms.     Die  then  some  victim  must 
Who  from  the  jaws  of  that  slain  dragon  sprung  : 
But  thou  alone  in  Thebes  remain'st  who  thence 
Deriv'st  thy  birth  unmixed,  both  by  thy  sire 
And  by  the  female  line  ;  thence,  too,  descend 
Thy  generous  sons  :  but  Hsemon  must  not  bleed, 
Because  he  is  espoused,  nor  in  a  state 
Of  pure  celibacy  doth  still  remain, 
For  he  possesses  an  affianced  bride, 
Although  he  be  a  stranger  to  her  bed. 
But,  for  the  city,  if  this  tender  youth 
Shall  as  a  chosen  victim  be  devoted, 
He  by  his  death  will  save  his  native  land, 
Will  cause  Adrastus  and  his  Argive  host 
With  anguish  to  return,  before  their  eyes 
Placing  grim  death,  and  add  renown  to  Thebes. 
From  these  two  fortunes  make  thy  choice  of  one, 
Whether  thy  son  or  city  thou  wilt  save. 
Thou  hast  heard  all  I  had  to  say  in  answer 
To  thy  inquiries.     Daughter,  lead  me  home. 



Unwise  is  he  who  practises  the  art 

Of  divination  ;  for  if  he  announce 

Evils  to  come,  he  is  abhorred  by  those 

Who  hear  him ;  but,  through  pity,  if  he  utter 

Untruths  that  please,  he  sins  against  the  gods. 

Phoebus  alone,  who  cannot  fear  the  hate 

Of  man,  his  own  responses  should  pronounce. 

{Exit  TiRESIAS. 

Chor.  What  means  this  silence?    Wherefore  hast  thou 
Thy  mouth,  O  Creon  ?     But  I  too  am  smitten 
With  equal  terror, 

Cre.  How  can  a  reply 

Be  made  to  such  proposal  ?    What  I  mean 
To  say  is  evident.     To  such  a  pitch 
Of  woe  may  I  ne'er  come  as  to  resign 
My  son  to  bleed  for  Thebes  !     In  all  mankind 
The  love  they  bear  their  children  is  as  strong 
As  that  of  life ;  nor  is  there  any  father 
Who  for  a  victim  will  yield  up  his  son. 
May  no  man  praise  me  on  such  terms  as  slaying 
Those  I  begot  !     I  stand  prepared  to  die. 
For  I  am  ripe  in  years,  and  would  for  Thebes 
Make  due  atonement  with  my  streaming  gore. 
But,  O  my  son,  ere  the  whole  city  know. 
Regardless  of  that  frantic  prophet's  voice, 
Fly  fronn  this  land,  fly  with  your  utmost  speed  ; 
He  will  proclaim  the  oracle  to  those 
Who  wield  the  sceptre,  or  lead  forth  our  troops 
To  battle,  visiting  each  chieftain  stationed 
At  the  seven  gates  :  if  haply  we  with  him 
Can  be  beforehand,  you  may  yet  be  saved ; 
But  if  you  loiter,  we  are  both  undone.  , 

And  you  must  die. 

Men.  But  whither,  to  what  city, 

What  hospitable  stranger  speed  my  flight  ? 

Cre.  As  far  as  possible  from  these  domains. 

Men.  You  ought  to  name  a  place  for  my  retreat, 
And  I  must  execute  what  you  command. 

The  phcenician  damsels.  195 

Cre.  Passing  through  Delphi — 

Men.  Wliither,  O  my  sire, 

Must  I  proceed  ? 

Cre.  To  the  ^tolian  land. 

Men.  But  whither  thence  shall  I  direct  my  course .' 

Cre.  Next  to  Thesprotia. 

Men.  Where  Dodona  rears 

Her  hallowed  grove. 

Cre.  Full  well  you  comprehend 

My  meaning. 

Men.  There  what  safeguard  shall  I  find .' 

Cre.  Its  tutelary  god  your  steps  will  guide. 

Men.  But  how  shall  I  with  treasures  be  supplied  ? 

Cre.  To  you  will  I  convey  abundant  gold. 

Men.  Discreetly  have  you  spoken,  O  my  sire. 

Cre.  Now  leave  me. 

Men.  To  your  sister  I  would  go^- 

I  mean  Jocasta,  who  first  nurtured  me 
In  infancy,  when  of  my  mother  reft 
An  orphan  I  became  ;  one  fond  adieu 
To  her  I  fain  would  bid,  and  of  my  life 
Then  take  due  care. 

Cre.  But  go,  or  you  will  frustrate 

All  I  can  do  to  save  you. 

{Exit  CreON. 

Men.  With  what  art, 

0  virgins,  have  I  soothed  my  father's  fears, 
By  specious  words  (my  promise  to  accomplish) 
Deceiving  him  who  sends  me  hence,  to  rob 
The  city  of  those  fortunes  which  await  her, 
And  brand  me  with  a  coward's  hateful  name. 
In  an  old  man  such  weakness  claims  excuse  ; 
But  I  should  sin  beyond  all  hopes  of  pardon 

If  I  betrayed  the  land  which  gave  me  birth. 

1  go,  to  save  this  city;  be  assured. 

Such  are  the  terms  on  which  I  yield  up  life, 
Content  to  perish  in  my  country's  cause. 
If  they  whom  Heaven's  oracular  response 
Leaves  at  full  liberty,  by  no  decrees 

G  3 


Of  the  resistless  destinies  impelled, 

Maintain  their  ground  in  battle,  nothing  loth 

To  bleed,  the  champions  of  their  native  land. 

Before  yon  turrents,  base  were  it  in  me. 

If  proving  faithless  to  my  sire,  my  brother, 

And  country,  like  a  dastard,  I  should  speed 

My  flight  from  these  domains ;  where'er  I  live, 

Shame  would  o'ertake  me.     From  the  starry  pole 

May  Jove  forefend,  and  Mars,  in  human  gore 

Exulting,  who  the  sceptre  of  this  realm 

Erst  gave  to  kings,  earth's  progeny,  the  seed 

Of  that  slain  dragon's  teeth.     But  I  will  go. 

Ascend  the  topmost  pinnacles,  and  piercing 

My  breast,  where  they  o'erhang  the  dragon's  cave. 

The  very  spot  the  seer  described,  redeem 

My  country  from  its  foes.     I  have  pronounced 

Th'  irrevocable  word.     But,  by  my  death, 

On  Thebes  no  sordid  present  to  bestow, 

I  haste,  and  from  these  mischiefs  will  set  free 

The  groaning  land.     Would  every  man  exert 

To  their  full  stretch  his  talents  to  promote 

The  public  interest,  every  state,  exposed 

To  fewer  ills,  hereafter  might  be  blest. 

{Exit  MENiECEUS. 



O  winged  fiend,  who  from  the  earth 
And  an  infernal  viper  drew'st  thy  birth, 

Thou  cam'st,  thou  cam'st,  to  bear  away, 
Amidst  incessant  groans,  thy  prey. 

And  harass  Cadmus'  race, 
Thy  frantic  pinions  did  resound, 
Thy  fangs  impressed  the  gha=tly  wound, 
Thou  ruthless  monster  with  a  virgin's  face  : 
What  youths  from  Dirce's  fount  were  borne  aloof, 
While  thou  didst  utter  thy  discordant  song, 
The  furies  haunted  every  roof, 


And  o'er  these  walls  sat  slaughter  brooding  long. 

Sure  from  some  god  whose  breast  no  mercy  knew 

Their  source  impure  these  hoiTors  drew. 

From  house  to  house  the  cries 

Of  matrons  did  resound, 

And  wailing  maidens  rent  the  skies 

With  frequent  shrieks  loud  as  the  thundei^'s  burst, 

Oft  as  the  Sphinx  accurst, 
Some  youth,  whom  in  the  Theban  streets  she  found, 
Bore  high  in  air ;  all  gazed  in  wild  affright. 
Till  she  vanished  from  their  sight. 

At  length  the  Pythian  god's  command 
Brought  Qidipus  to  this  ill-fated  land  ; 

Each  heart  did  then  with  transport  glow. 

Though  now  his  name  renew  their  woe  : 
By  angry  Heaven  beguiled, 

When  he  th'  enigma  had  explained, 

His  mother  for  a  bride  he  gained  ; 
With  incest  hence  the  city  was  defiled. 
Fresh  murders  soon  his  curses  will  inspire. 
Urging  his  sons  to  an  unnatural  strife. 

We  that  heroic  youth  admire 
Who  in  his  country's  cause  resigns  his  life, 
H.e,  though  his  father  Creon  wail  his  fate. 

With  triumph  in  the  fell  debate. 

Will  crown  these  sevenfold  towers. 
Of  Heaven  I  ask  no  more 

Than  that  such  children  may  be  ours  : 
Thy  aid,  O  Pallas,  in  th'  adventurous  deed 

Caused  Cadmus  to  succeed, 
And  slay  the  dragon,  whose  envenomed  gore 
Was  sprinkled  on  these  rocks  ;  by  Heaven's  command 

Hence  some  pest  still  haunts  the  land. 

Messenger,  Chorus. 
Mes.  Who  at  the  portals  of  the  regal  dome 
Is  stationed  1    Open,  bring  Jocasta  forth 


From  her  apartment.     Ho  !  advance  at  length, 
And  listen  to  my  voice,  illustrious  wife 
Of  Oidipus.     No  longer  grieve,  nor  shed 
The  piteous  tear. 

JocASTA,  Messenger,  Chorus. 

Joe.  Come  you,  my  friend,  to  bring 

Sad  tidings  of  Eteocles  the  slain. 
Beside  whose  shield  you  ever  stood  to  guard 
The  warrior  from  the  javelins  of  the  foe  ? 
With  what  important  message  are  you  charged  ? 
Is  my  son  dead,  or  lives  he?    Tell  me  all. 

Mes.  He  lives,  that  fear  be  banished. 

Joe.  Are  our  walls 

By  their  seven  towers  secured .'' 

Mes.  They  still  remain 

Unshaken,  and  the  city  is  not  sacked. 

Joe.  Have  they  withstood  the  perilous  assault 
From  th'  Argive  combatants  1 

Mes.  The  fate  of  battle 

Is  just  decided:  the  intrepid  race 
Of  Cadmus  o'er  Mycene's  host  prevailed. 

Joe.  Yet  one  thing  more ;  I  by  th'  immortal  powers 
Conjure  you,  tell  me  whether  you  know  aught 
Of  Polynices,  for  I  wish  to  learn 
If  he  yet  live. 

Mes.  At  present  both  thy  sons 

Are  living. 

Joe,  Bliss  attend  you  :  but  inform  me 

How  ye  the  troops  of  Argos  from  the  gates, 
Beleaguered  in  the  turrets,  could  repel  ? 
That  to  my  home  with  speed  I  may  return, 
The  blind  and  aged  G^dipus  to  soothe 
With  the  glad  tidings  that  this  city's  saved. 

Mes.  Since  Creon's  son,  who  for  his  country  diedj 
Mounting  the  topmost  pinnacles,  transpierced 
His  bosom  with  the  falchion,  and  became 
The  generous  saviour  of  his  native  land, 
Eteocles  distributed  seven  cohorts 


At  the  seven  gates,  and  to  each  band  assigned 

Its  leader,  by  their  vigilance  to  check 

The  furious  onset  of  the  Argive  host  : 

He  stationed  a  reserve  of  horse  to  succour 

The  horse,  and  infantry  witli  bucklers  armed 

Behind  the  infantry,  that  where  the  walls 

Were  with  the  greatest  violence  assailed 

Fresh  strength  might  be  at  hand.     As  on  our  turrets 

We  stood  exalted,  and  o'erlooked  the  plain, 

The  Argive  host  we  saw,  with  silver  shields 

Conspicuous,  from  Teumessus'  mount  descend  : 

Over  their  trenches  in  their  rapid  march 

Soon  vaulting,  to  ihe  city  they  drew  near, 

While  paeans,  mingled  with  the  trumpet's  sound, 

At  the  same  instant  through  their  ranks  were  heard, 

And  on  the  Theban  walls.     His  squadron,  first, 

By  their  raised  targets  screened,  which  cast  around 

A  horrid  shade,  to  the  Neitian  gate 

Parthenopasus  l^d,  the  daring  son 

Of  Atalanta  ;  on  his  central  shield, 

His  mother's  trophy,  the  ^tolian  boar. 

Pierced  by  that  huntress  with  unerring  shaft. 

The  chief  displayed.     Amphiareus  the  seer 

Marched  to  the  gites  of  Prsetus,  on  his  car 

Conveying  victims  :  no  unseemly  pride 

In  his  armorial  bearings  was  expressed. 

But  on  his  modest  buckler  there  appeared 

A  vacant  field.     At  the  Ogygian  portals 

The  fierce  Hippomedon  maintained  his  stand. 

By  this  achievement  was  his  orbdd  targe 

Distinguished :  Argus,  with  unnumbered  eyes, 

A  part  of  which,  awakening  fresh  from  sleep, 

Oped  with  the  rising  stars,  meantime  the  rest 

He  with  the  setting  constellations  closed  ; 

As  more  distinctly,  when  the  chief  was  slain, 

Might  be  discerned.     But  Tydeus  next  his  post 

Before  the  Homolaean  gate  maintained  : 

With  a  huge  lion's  bristly  hide  his  shield 

Was  covered,  in  his  better  hand  a  torch 


He,  like  Prometheus  of  the  Titans'  race, 

Brandished  to  fire  the  city.     To  the  gate 

From  Dirce's  fountain  named  his  marshalled  troops 

Thy  son  the  furious  Polynices  led  ; 

The  rapid  mares  of  Potnia  (the  device 

Portrayed  upon  his  target)  seemed  to  leap 

With  panic  terrors  smitten,  and,  grown  frantic, 

All  crowded  in  a  circle  to  the  rim. 

Equal  in  courage  to  the  God  of  War, 

Next  with  his  cohort  to  Electra's  gate 

Rushed  Capaneus  :  the  ensign  wrought  in  steel 

Upon  his  buckler  was  an  earth-born  giant. 

Whose  shoulders  carried  a  whole  city  torn 

With  levers  from  its  basis,  to  denote 

The  menaced  fate  of  Thebes.     Adrastus'  self 

At  the  seventh  gate  appeared ;  on  his  left  arm 

The  Hydra  with  a  hundred  snakes  begirt, 

Which  filled  the  convex  surface  of  his  shield. 

That  badge  of  Argive  pride,  the  warrior  bore. 

From  Thebes,  surrounded  by  its  lofty  walls. 

The  serpents  opening  their  voracious  jaws 

Conveyed  the  sons  of  Cadmus.     Each  device 

I  could  observe  securely,  as  I  passed 

Betwixt  the  leaders  of  the  adverse  hosts, 

Distinguished  by  the  pledge  of  truce.     At  first 

We  at  a  distance  fought  with  bows  and  shafts, 

And  slings  and  stones  ;  but  when  our  troops  obtained 

An  easy  conquest  in  this  missile  war, 

Tydeus,  and  Polynices,  thy  brave  son, 

Both  cried  at  the  same  instant,  "  O  ye  race 

Of  Danaus,  ere  our  squadrons  are  dispersed 

By  weapons  from  yon  lofty  turrets  hurled, 

Why  on  the  portals  scruple  ye  to  make 

One  resolute  assault  with  all  our  strength. 

The  light-armed  troops,  our  horse,  and  brazen  cars  ?  " 

Soon  as  they  heard  their  leader's  cheering  voice, 

None  loitered,  but  full  many  a  valiant  Argive 

Was  through  the  brain  transpierced,  while  from  the  walls, 

Like  skilful  divers,  our  expiring  friends 


Oft  threw  themselves  ;  the  thirsty  ground  with  streams 

Of  gore  they  drenched.     Fierce  Atalanta's  son, 

Not  Argos,  but  Arcadia  gave  him  birth, 

Rushed  like  a  whirlwind  to  the  gates,  and  called 

For  flaming  brands  and  axes  to  destroy ; 

But  Periclimenus,  who  from  the  god 

Of  ocean  sprung,  soon  quelled  his  frantic  rage  : 

Torn  from  the  battlement,  a  stone,  whose  mass 

Had  filled  a  chariot,  on  his  head  he  threw, 

The  stripling's  auburn  hair  and  crashing  skull 

It  severed,  and  those  rosy  cheeks  defiled 

With  gushing  blood  ;  to  the  maternal  arms 

Of  her  who  twangs  the  unerring  bow,  the  nymph 

Of  Msnalon,  he  never  shall  return. 

But  when  thy  son  Eteocles  surveyed 

Our  triumphs  at  this  gate,  the  rest  with  speed 

He  visited;  I  followed,  and  beheld 

Tydeus  attended  by  a  phalanx  armed 

With  bucklers  hurling  their  ^tolian  spears 

Into  the  loftiest  towers,  with  such  success 

That  they  constrained  our  fugitives  to  quit 

Their  station  on  the  ramparts ;  but  thy  son 

Rallied  them  like  a  hunter,  and  collected 

Each  warrior  to  resume  his  post ;  their  fears 

Dispelled,  we  hasted  to  another  gate. 

But  in  what  terms  shall  I  describe  the  madness 

Of  Capaneus  ?     He  with  a  ladder  came, 

And  boasted  that  not  e'en  the  lightning  launched 

By  Jove's  own  hand  should  hinder  him  from  scaling 

The  towers  to  sack  the  city.     Thus  he  spoke ; 

And  'midst  a  storm  of  stones,  from  step  to  step 

Ascending,  still  sufficient  shelter  found 

Beneath  the  huge  circumference  ot  his  shield  ; 

But  as  he  reached  the  summit  of  the  wall 

Jove  smote  him  with  a  thunderbolt,  earth  gave 

A  sound  so  loud  that  all  were  seized  with  terror ; 

As  from  a  sling  his  scattered  limbs  were  thrown, 

His  blasted  tresses  mounted  to  the  skies. 

On  earth  his  blood  was  sprinkled,  but  his  hands 


And  feet  were,  like  Ixion  on  the  wheel, 

Whirled  with  incessant  motion,  till  at  length 

Down  to  the  ground  he  fell  a  smouldering  corse. 

Soon  as  Adrastus  saw  Jove  warred  against  him, 

He  with  his  Argive  host  in  swift  retreat 

Again  the  trenches  crossed  :  but  when  our  troops 

Marked  the  auspicious  sign  vouchsafed  by  Jove, 

They  from  the  gates  rushed  forth  with  brazen  cars, 

With  cavalry  in  ponderous  arms  arrayed, 

And  'midst  the  Argive  squadrons  hurled  their  spears  : 

Each  ill  concurred  to  overwhelm  the  foe, 

Death  raged  amongst  them,  from  their  chariots  thrown 

They  perished,  wheels  flew  off,  'gainst  axle  crashed 

Axle,  and  corses  were  on  corses  lieaped. 

The  Theban  turrets  we  this  day  have  saved 

From  ruin,  but  to  the  immortal  powers, 

And  them  alone,  belongs  it  to  decide 

Whether  auspicious  fortune  on  this  land 

Shall  smile  hereafter. 

Chor.  In  th'  embattled  field 

'Tis  glorious  to  prevail  :  but  were  the  gods 
More  favourably  disposed,  I  should  enjoy 
A  greater  share  of  bliss. 

Joe.  The  gods  and  fortune 

Have  amply  done  their  part :  for  both  my  sons 
Are  living,  and  the  city,  hath  escaped  : 
Unhappy  Creon  only  seems  to  reap 
The  bitter  fruits  of  my  accursed  nuptials 
With  Qldipus,  for  he  hath  lost  his  son. 
And  such  event,  though  fortunat  j  for  Thebes, 
To  him  is  grievous.     In  your  tale  proceed. 
Sny  on  ;  what  farther  have  my  sons  resolved  1 

Mes.  The  sequel  wave ;  for  all  with  thee  thus  far 
Goes  prosperously. 

Joe.  These  words  but  serve  to  raise 

Suspicion  :  nothing  must  be  left  untold. 

Mes.  What  wouldst  thou  more  than  that  thy  sons  are  safe  ? 

Joe.  But  whether  my  good  fortune  will  prove  lasting 
I  wish  to  know. 


Mes.  Release  me  :  for  thy  son 

Is  left  without  his  shield-bearer. 

Joe.  Some  ill 

In  mystic  darkness  wrapt  you  strive  to  hide. 

Mes.  I  to  these  welcome  tidings  cannot  add 
Such  as  would  make  thee  wretched. 

Joe,  No  way  left. 

Unless  you  through  the  air  could  wing  your  flight, 
Have  you  to  'scape  me. 

Mes.  After  this  glad  message 

Why  wilt  thou  not  allow  me  to  depart, 
Rather  than  speak  of  grievous  ills  ?     Thy  sons 
Are  both  resolved  on  a  most  impious  deed  : 
Apart  from  either  army  to  engage 
In  single  combat,  to  the  Argive  troops 
And  the  assembled  citizens  of  Thebes 
Have  they  addressed  such  language  as  ne'er  ought 
To  reach  their  ears,     Eteocles  began  : 
Above  the  field  high  on  a  tower  he  stood, 
Commanding  silence  first  to  be  proclaimed 
Through  all  the  host,  and  cried  :  "  O  peerless  chiefs 
Of  the  Achaian  land,  who,  to  invade 
This  city,  from  the  realms  of  Danaus  come, 
And  ye  who  spring  from  Cadmus,  in  the  cause 
Of  Polynices  barter  not  your  lives, 
Nor  yet  on  my  behalf  ;   I,  from  such  dangers 
To  save  you,  with  my  brother  will  engage 
In  single  combat,  and  if  him  I  slay 
Here  in  this  palace  shall  I  reign  alone, 
But  I  to  him  the  city  will  yield  up 
If  I  am  vanquished  :  from  the  bloody  strife 
Desisting,  ye  to  Argos  shall  return, 
Nor  perish  in  a  foreign  land  :  enough 
Of  Thebans  too  on  this  ensanguined  plain 
Lie  breathless  corses."     With  these  words  his  speech 
The  dauntless  chief  concluded.     From  the  ranks, 
Thy  offspring,  Polynices,  then  advanced 
And  the  proposal  praised,  while,  with  a  shout. 
The  Argive  and  the  Theban  hosts,  who  deemed 


Such  combat  just,  their  public  sanction  gave. 

Then  was  the  truce  agreed  on ;  'twixt  both  hosts 

The  generals  met,  and  by  a  solemn  oath 

Engaged  themselves  the  compact  to  fulfil. 

In  brazen  panoply,  without  delay 

The  sons  of  aged  CEdipus  were  clad  : 

His  friends,  the  noblest  Theban  youths,  equipped 

The  ruler  of  this  land,  the  Argive  chiefs 

Armed  his  antagonist  ;  both  stood  conspicuous 

In  glittering  mail,  their  looks  betrayed  no  change, 

And  at  each  other's  breast  with  frantic  rage 

They  longed  to  hurl  the  spear.    Meantime  their  friends 

Passed  by,  and  with  these  words  iheir  courage  roused : 

"  On  thee,  O  Polynices,  it  depends 

To  rear  an  image  of  triumphant  Jove, 

And  add  fresh  glories  to  the  Argive  state." 

But  to  Eteocles  they  cried  :  "  Thou  fight'st 

The  battles  of  thy  native  land,  obtain 

A  conquest  and  the  sceptre  will  be  thine." 

Exhorting  them  to  combat  thus  they  spoke  ; 

Meanwhile  the  seers  the  fleecy  victims  slew, 

Drew  forth  the  reeking  entrails,  and  observed 

Whether  the  flames  by  unpropitious  damps 

Were  checked,  or  mounted  in  a  spiral  blaze. 

The  twofold  signs  of  victory  or  defeat. 

But  if  thou  canst  do  aught  by  sage  advice 

Or  magic  incantation,  go,  dissuade 

Thy  sons  from  this  accursed  strife;  the  danger 

Is  imminent,  and  horror  must  attend 

On  such  a  conflict :  with  abundant  tears 

Wilt  thou  bewail  their  fate  if  thou  this  day 

Of  both  thy  sons  art  reft. 

Joe.  Come  forth,  my  daughter, 

Antigone,  thy  fortunes  now  are  such 
As  will  not  suffer  thee  to  lead  the  dance 
Amid  thy  virgin  train — thou,  with  thy  mother. 
Must  hasten  to  prevent  two  valiant  youths. 
Thy  brothers,  rushing  upon  instant  death, 
Else  will  they  perish  by  each  other's  hand. 


Antigone,  Jocasta,  Chorus. 

Ant.  Before  these  gates,  my  mother,  with  what  sounds 
Of  recent  horror  com'st  thou  to  alarm 
Thy  friends. 

Joe.  Ere  now,  my  daughter,  both  thy  brothers 

Have  lost  their  lives. 

Ant.  What  sayst  thou  ? 

Joe.  They  went  forth 

Resolved  on  single  combat. 

Ant.  Wretched  me  ! 

What  more  hast  thou,  O  mother,  to  relate  ? 

Joe.  Nought  that  can  give  thee  joy,  but  follow  me. 

Ant.  Say  whither  must  I  go,  and  leave  behind 
My  virgin  comrades  ? 

Joe.  To  the  host. 

Ant.  I  blush 

To  mingle  with  the  crowd. 

Joe.  These  bashful  fears 

Are  such  as  in  thy  present  situation 
Become  thee  not. 

Ant.  How  can  my  help  avail? 

Joe.  Thou  haply  mayst  appease  this  impious  strife 
Betwixt  thy  brothers. 

Ant.  Mother,  by  what  means  ? 

Joe.  By  falling  prostrate  at  their  knees  with  me. 

Ant.  Lead  on  betwixt  the  van  of  either  host, 
This  crisis  will  admit  of  no  delay. 

Joe.  Haste,  O  my  daughter,  haste,  for  if  my  sons 
I  haply  can  prevent  ere  they  begin 
Th'  accurst  encounter,  I  shall  yet  behold 
The  blessed  sun  ;  but  if  I  find  them  slain 
With  them  will  I  partake  one  common  grave. 

{Exeunt  Jocasta  and  AXTIGONE. 



Ah,  what  boding  horror  throws 
Chilling  damps  into  my  breast, 
How  is  this  whole  frame  opprest 
By  sympathetic  pity  for  the  woes 
Of  her  who  to  those  valiant  youths  gave  birth  : 
But  which  of  her  loved  children  twain 
His  sword  with  kindred  gore  shall  stain 
(Avert  it,  righteous  Jove,  and  thou,  O  genial  earth  !) 
And  in  the  strife  a  brother  slay, 
The  stroke  descending  through  his  cloven  shield  ? 
To  whom  the  sad  last  tribute  shall  I  pay, 
A  breathless  corse  stretcht  weltering  on  the  field  ? 


Woe  to  thee,  thou  Theban  ground! 

Those  twin  lions  fired  with  rage 

Couch  their  lances  to  engage. 
And  stand  prepared  to  aim  the  deadly  wound. 
In  evil  hour  the  thought  of  single  fight 

Entered  their  souls.     While  many  a  tear. 

Shuddering  with  excess  of  fear. 
For  them  I  vainly  shed,  their  dirge  will  I  recite, 

Though  in  a  harsh  barbaric  strain  ; 
Their  destined  portion  slaughter  is  at  hand. 
Ere  Phoebus  sinks  into  the  western  main 
Their  forfeit  lives  the  furies  shall  demand. 
But  I  my  warbled  lamentations  cease, 
For,  with  a  brow  by  clouds  of  grief  o'ercast, 
Creon,  approaching  these  abodes,  I  view. 

Creon,  Chorus. 
Cre.  Ah  me  !  shall  I  bewail  my  private  woes 
Or  those  of  Thebes  surrounded  by  such  clouds 
As  Acheron  exhales  !     My  valiant  son 
Died  for  his  country,  an  illustrious  name 


Obtaining,  but  to  me  a  source  of  grief. 
That  self-devoted  victim's  mangled  corse 
I,  from  yon  rock,  the  dragon's  curst  abode, 
Wretch  that  I  am,  have  in  these  hands  just  borne  : 
With  lamentations  my  whole  house  resounds. 
I,  a  forlorn  old  man,  my  aged  sister 
Jocasta  come  to  fetch,  that  she  may  lave 
And  on  the  decent  bier  stretch  forth  the  corse 
Of  my  departed  son.     For  it  behoves 
The  living,  by  bestowing  on  the  dead 
Funereal  honours,  to  adore  the  god 
Who  rules  in  hell  beneath. 

Chor.  From  these  abodes, 

0  Creon,  is  your  sister  just  gone  forth, 
And  on  her  mother's  footsteps  did  attend 
The  nymph  Antigone. 

Cre.  Inform  me,  whither, 

And  to  what  scene  of  recent  woe  ? 

Chor.  She  heard 

Her  sons  by  single  combat  were  resolved 
Their  contest  for  this  palace  to  decide. 

Cre.  What  sayst  thou  ?     I  came  hither  but  to  grace 
With  due  sepulchral  rites  my  breathless  son. 
Nor  of  these  fresh  disasters  thought  to  hear. 

Chor.  'Tis  a  long  time,  O  Creon,  since  your  sister 
Went  hence  ;  ere  now  I  deem  the  fatal  strife 
Betwixt  the  sons  of  CEdipus  is  ended. 

Cre.  Ah  me  !  an  evil  omen  I  behold 
In  that  deep  gloom  which  overcasts  the  eyes 
And  visage  of  yon  messenger  ;  he  comes, 
No  doubt,  the  whole  transaction  to  relate. 

Messenger,  Creon,  Chorus. 

Mes.  Wretch  that  I  am  I     What  language  can  I  find  ? 

Cre.  We  are  undone  ;  for  with  a  luckless  prelude 
Thy  speech  begins. 

Mes.  I  yet  again  exclaim. 

Ah,  wretched  me  !     Most  grievous  are  the  tidings 

1  brinsr. 


Cre.       Of  any  farther  ills  than  those 
Which  have  already  happened,  wouldst  thou  speak 

Mes.  Your  sistei^s  sons,  O  Creon,  are  no  more. 

Cre.  Great  are  the  woes,  alas  I  which  thou  relat'st, 
To  me  and  to  this  city. 

Mes.  Hast  thou  heard, 

0  house  of  Oidipus,  how  both  his  sons 
Partook  one  common  fate  1 

Chor.  These  very  walls, 

Were  they  endued  with  sense,  would  shed  a  tear. 

Cre.  Oh,  what  a  load  of  misery  !  wretched  me  ! 

Mes.  Did  you  but  know  of  your  fresh  ills — 

Cre.  Could  fate 

Have  any  ills  more  grievous  in  reser\'e  ? 

Mes.  With  her  two  sons  your  wretched  sister's  dead. 

Chor.  In  concert  wake,  my  friends,  the  plaintive  strain, 
And  smite  your  heads  with  those  uplifted  hands. 

Cre.  Hapless  Jocasta,  what  a  close  of  life 
And  wedlock,  through  th'  enigma  of  the  Sphinx, 
Hast  thou  experienced  !     But  how  both  her  sons 
Were  slain  in  that  dire  contest,  through  the  curses 
Pronounced  by  CEdipus  their  injured  sire, 
Inform  me. 

Mes.  How  Thebes  triumphed  o'er  th'  assailants, 

And  her  beleaguered  turrets  saved,  you  know  ; 
Nor  are  the  walls  so  distant,  but  from  thence 
Ere  now  those  great  events  you  must  have  heard. 
Soon  as  in  brazen  panoply  the  sons 
Of  aged  a£dipus  were  clad,  they  stood 
In  the  midway  'iwixt  either  host,  kings  both, 
Of  mighty  hosts  both  chieftains,  to  decide 
This  strife  in  single  combat.     Then  his  eyes 
Towards  Argos  turning,  Polynices  prayed: 
"  O  Juno,  awful  queen,  for  I  became 
Thy  votary  since  the  daughter  of  Adrastus 

1  wedded,  and  in  his  dominions  found 
A  habitation,  grant  that  I  may  slay 

My  brother,  and  with  kindred  gore  distain 
In  the  dire  conflict  this  victorious  arm ; 


For  an  unseemly  wreath,  nor  to  be  gained 

Unless  I  take  away  the  life  of  him 

Who  springs  from  the  same  parents,  I  to  thee 

My  vows  address."     Tears  burst  forth,  in  a  stream 

Equ;il  to  the  calamity  they  wailed. 

From  multitudes,  who  on  each  other  gazed. 

Eteocles,  then  turning  to  the  fane 

Of  Pallas,  goddess  of  the  golden  shield, 

Exclaimed  :  "  O  daughter  of  imperial  Jov^^, 

Grant  me  with  vigorous  arm  a  conquering  spear 

To  hurl  against  my  brother's  breast,  and  smite 

The  man  who  comes  to  lay  my  country  waste." 

But  when  Etruria's  trumpet  with  shrill  voice 

Had,  like  the  kindled  torch,  a  signal  given 

The  combat  to  begin,  with  dreadful  rage 

Against  each  other  rushing,  like  two  boars 

Whetting  their  ruthless  tusks,  they  fought  till  foam 

O'erspread  their  cheeks  ;  with  pointed  spears  they  made 

A  furious  onset ;  but  each  warrior  stooped 

Behind  his  brazen  target,  and  the  weapon 

Was  aimed  in  vain ;  whene'er  above  the  rim 

Of  his  huge  buckler  either  chief  beheld 

The  face  of  his  antagonist,  he  strove 

To  pierce  it  with  his  spear ;  but  through  the  holes 

Bored  in  the  centre  of  their  shields  they  both 

With  caution  looked,  nor  could  inflict  a  wound 

By  the  protended  javelin.     A  cold  sweat, 

Through  terror  for  the  safety  of  their  friends, 

From  every  pore  of  those  who  viewed  the  fight, 

Far  more  than  from  the  combatants,  arose. 

But,  stumbling  on  a  stone  beneath  his  feet, 

Eteocles  had  chanced  to  leave  one  leg 

Unguarded  by  his  shield  ;  then  onward  rushed 

Fierce  Polynices  with  his  lifted  spear, 

And  marking  where  he  at  the  part  exposed 

Most  surely  might  direct  the  stroke,  his  ankle 

Pierced  with  an  Argive  weapon,  while  the  race 

Of  Danaus  gave  a  universal  shout. 

But  in  this  struggle,  when  the  chief  who  first 


Was  wounded  saw  the  shoulder  of  his  foe 

Laid  bare,  he  into  Polynices'  breast, 

His  utmost  force  exerting,  thrust  his  spear. 

Again  the  citizens  of  Thebes  rejoiced  ; 

But  at  the  point  his  weapon  broke  :  disarmed 

Backwards  he  sunk,  and  on  one  knee  sustained 

The  weight  of  his  whole  body  ;  from  the  ground 

Meantime  the  fragment  of  a  massive  rock 

Uprearing,  he  at  Polynices  threw. 

And  smote  his  shivered  javelin.     Of  their  spears 

Now  both  deprived  on  equal  terms  they  fought 

With  their  drawn  falchions  hand  to  hand,  the  din 

Of  war  resounded  from  their  crashing  shields. 

Then  haply  to  Eteocles  occurred 

A  stratagem  in  Thessaly  devised, 

Which  through  his  frequent  commerce  with  that  land 

He  had  adopted  ;  from  the  stubborn  fight, 

As  if  disabled,  seeming  to  retire, 

His  left  leg  he  drew  back,  but  with  his  shield 

Guarded  his  flank,  on  his  right  foot  sprung  forward, 

Plunged  in  the  navel  of  the  foe  his  sword. 

And  pierced  the  spinal  joint ;  his  sides  through  pain 

Now  writhing,  Polynices  fell,  with  drops 

Of  gore  the  earth  distaining.     But  his  brother. 

As  if  he  in  the  combat  had  obtained 

Decisive  victory,  casting  on  the  ground 

His  falchion,  tore  the  glittering  spoils  away, 

Fixmg  his  thoughts  on  those  alone  and  blind 

To  his  own  safety  ;  hence  was  he  deceived  : 

For,  still  with  a  small  portion  of  the  breath 

Of  life  endued,  fallen  Polynices,  grasping 

His  sword  e'en  in  the  agonies  of  death, 

The  liver  of  Eteocles  transpierced. 

With  furious  teeth  they  rend  the  crimson  soil, 

And  prostrate  by  each  other's  side  have  left 

The  conquest  dubious. 

Cre.  Much,  alas  !  thy  woes 

Do  I  bewail,  for  by  the  strictest  ties 
With  thee,  O  CEdipus,  am  I  connected  ; 


An  nngry  god,  too  plainly  it  appears, 
Thy  imprecations  hath  fulfilled. 

Mes.  What  woes 

Succeeded  these,  now  hear.     As  both  her  sons 
Expiring  lay,  with  an  impetuous  step, 
Attended  by  Antigone,  rushed  forth 
The  wretched  mother  :  pierced  with  deadly  wounds 
Beholding  them,  "  My  children,"  she  exclaimed, 
"  Too  late  to  your  assistance  am  I  come."' 
Embracing  each  by  turns,  she  then  bewailed. 
The  toil  with  which  she  at  her  breast  in  vain 
Had  nurtured  them.     She  ended  with  a  groan, 
In  which  their  sister  joined  :  ''  O  ye  who  cherished 
A  drooping  mother's  age,  my  nuptial  rites, 
Dear  brothers,  ere  the  hymeneal  morn 
Have  ye  deserted."     From  his  inmost  breast 
Eteocles  with  difficulty  breathed  ; 
His  mother's  voice,  however,  reached  his  ear, 
And  stretching  forth  his  clammy  hand,  no  words 
Had  he  to  utter,  but  his  swimming  eyes 
Shed  tears  expressive  of  his  filial  love. 
But  Polynices,  whose  lungs  still  performed 
Their  functions,  gazing  on  his  aged  mother 
And  sister,  cried,  "  O  mother,  we  are  lost ; 
I  pity  thee — my  sister  too  1  pity — 
And  my  slain  brother,  for  although  that  friend 
Became  a  foe,  this  heart  still  holds  him  dear. 
But  bury  me,  O  thou  who  gav'st  me  birth, 
And  my  loved  sister,  in  my  native  land 
Your  mediation  to  appease  the  city 
Uniting,  that  of  my  paternal  soil 
Enough  for  a  poor  grave  I  may  obtain, 
Though  I  have  lost  the  empire.     Close  these  eyes 
With  thy  maternal  hand"  (her  hand  he  placed 
Over  his  eyelids),  "and  farewell :  the  shades 
Of  night  already  compass  me  around." 
Their  miserable  souls  they  both  breathed  forth 
At  the  same  instant.     When  their  mother  saw 
This  fresh  calamity,  no  longer  able 


The  weight  of  her  afflictions  to  sustain, 

She  from  the  corses  of  her  sons  snatched  up 

A  sword,  and  an  atrocious  deed  performed  ; 

For  through  her  neck  the  pointed  steel  she  drove, 

And  hes  in  death  'twixt  those  she  held  most  dear, 

E'en  now  embracing  both.     A  strife  of  words 

Broke  forth  in  the  two  armies  :  we  maintained 

The  triumph  to  our  king  belonged,  but  they 

To  his  antagonist.     Amid  the  chiefs 

A  vehement  contention  rose ;  some  urged 

Tliat  Polynices'  spear  first  gave  the  wound ; 

Others,  that  since  both  combatants  were  slain 

The  victory  still  was  dubious.     From  the  lines 

Of  battle  now  Antigone  retired  ; 

They  rushed  to  arms ;  but  with  auspicious  forethought 

The  progeny  of  Cadmus  bad  not  thrown 

Their  shields  aside :  we  in  an  instant  made 

A  fierce  assault,  invading  by  surprise 

The  host  of  Argos  yet  unsheathed  in  mail ; 

Not  one  withstood  the  shock,  they  o'er  the  field 

In  a  tumultuous  flight  were  scattered  wide  : 

Gore  streamed  from  many  a  corse  of  those  who  fell 

Beneath  our  spears.     No  sooner  had  we  gained 

A  victory  in  the  combat,  than  some  reared 

The  statue  of  imperial  Jove,  adorned 

With  trophies  :  others,  stripping  off  the  shields 

Of  the  slain  Argives,  lodged  within  the  walls 

Our  plunder  :  with  Antigone,  the  rest 

Bring  hither  the  remains  of  the  deceased. 

That  o'er  them  every  friend  may  shed  a  tear, 

For  to  the  city  hath  this  conflict  proved 

In  part  the  most  auspicious,  but  in  part 

Tlie  source  of  grievous  ills. 

Chor.  By  fame  alone 

No  longer  are  the  miseries  which  this  house 
Have  visited  made  public  ;  at  the  gates 
Are  the  three  corses  to  be  seen  of  those 
Who,  by  one  common  death,  have  in  the  shades 
Of  everlasting  night  their  portion  found. 


Antigone,  Creon,  Chorus. 

Ant.  The  wavy  ringlets  o'er  my  tender  cheeks 
I  cease  to  spread,  regardless  of  the  blush 
Which  tinges  with  a  crimson  hue  the  face 
Of  virgins.     Onward  am  I  borne  with  speed 
Like  the  distracted  Masnades,  not  busied 
In  Bacchus'  rites,  but  Pluto's,  from  my  hair 
Rending  the  golden  caul,  and  casting  off 
The  saffron  robe  ;  o'er  the  funereal  pomp 
(Ah  me  !)  presiding.     Well  hast  thou  deserved 
Thy  name,  O  Polynices  (wretched  Thebes  !), 
For  thine  was  not  a  vulgar  strife,  but  murder 
Retaliated  by  murder  hath  destroyed 
The  house  of  Qldipus  ;  the  source  whence  streamed 
Fraternal  gore  was  parricide.     But  whom 
Shall  I  invoke  to  lead  the  tuneful  dirge. 
Or  in  what  plaints,  taught  by  the  tragic  Muse, 
Solicit  yonder  vaulted  roofs  to  join 
With  me  in  tears,  while  hither  I  conduct 
Three  kindred  corses  smeared  with  gore,  to  add 
Fresh  triumphs  to  that  fury  who  marked  out 
For  total  ruin  the  devoted  house 
Of  thee,  O  Qidipus,  whose  luckless  skill 
That  intricate  enigma  did  unfold, 
And  slay  the  Sphinx  who  chanted  it  ?     My  sire, 
What  Grecian,  what  Barbarian,  or  what  chief 
In  ancient  days  illustrious,  who  that  sprung 
From  human  race,  hath  e'er  endured  such  ills 
As  thou  hast  done,  such  public  griefs  endured  ? 
Seated  upon  the  topmost  spray  of  oak. 
Of  branching  pine,  the  bird,  who  just  lost 
Its  mother,  wakes  a  sympathetic  song 
Of  plaints  and  anguish  :  thus  o'er  the  deceased 
Lamenting,  I  in  solitude  shall  waste 
The  remnant  of  my  life  'midst  gushing  tears. 
O'er  whom  shall  I  first  cast  the  tresses  rent 
From  these  disfigured  brows,  upon  the  breasts 
Of  her  who  with  maternal  love  sustained 



My  childhood,  or  my  brothers'  ghastly  wounds  ? 

Ho  !  QLdipus,  come  forth  from  thy  abode — 

BHnd  as  thou  art,  my  aged  sire,  display 

Thy  wretchedness.    O  thou  who,  having  veiled 

With  thickest  darkness  those  extinguished  eyes, 

Beneath  yon  roof  a  tedious  life  prolong'st : 

Hear'st  thou  my  voice,  O  thou,  who  through  the  hall 

Oft  mov'st  at  random,  and  as  oft  reliev'st 

Thy  wearied  feet  on  the  unwelcome  couch  ? 

CEdipus,  Antigone,  Creon,  Chorus. 

CEd,  Why,  O  my  daughter,  hast  thou  called  me  forth, 
A  wretch,  who  by  this  faithful  staff  supply 
The  want  of  sight,  to  the  loathed  glare  of  day, 
From  a  dark  chnmber,  where  I  to  my  bed 
Have  been  confined,  through  those  incessant  tears 
My  woes  extort,  grown  grey  before  my  time, 
And  wasted  by  affliction,  till  I  seem 
As  unsubstantial  as  the  ambient  air, 
A  spectre  rising  from  the  realms  beneath. 
Or  wingdd  dream  ? 

Ant.  Prepare  thyself  to  hear 

The  inauspicious  tidings  I  relate  : 
Thy  sons,  thy  consort  too,  the  faithful  staff 
Of  thy  blind  footsteps  and  their  constant  guide. 
No  longer  view  the  sun.     Alas,  my  sire  I 

CEd.  Ah  me  !    The  woes  I  suffer  call  forth  groans 
And  shrieks  abundant  :  but  inform  me  how 
These  three,  O  daughter,  left  the  realms  of  light. 

Ant.  Not  to  reproac'n  thee,  or  insult  thy  woes, 
My  father,  but  in  sadness  do  I  speak; 
Thy  evil  genius,  laden  with  the  sword. 
With  blazing  torches  and  with  impious  war. 
Rushed  on  thy  sons. 

CEd  Ah  me  ! 

Ant.  Why  groan'st  thou  thus  ? 

CEd.  For  my  dear.  sons. 

Ant.  'Twould  aggravate  thy  griefs. 

If  thou  with  eyesight  wert  again  endued, 


The  chariot  of  the  sun,  and  these  remains 
Of  the  deceased,  to  view. 

CEd  How  both  my  sons 

Have  lost  their  lives  is  evident :  but  say, 
To  what  my  consort  owes  her  piteous  fate  ?    ' 

Ant.  Her  tears  were  seen  by  all ;  lier  breasts  she 
A  suppliant  to  her  sons,  whom,  near  the  gate 
Electra,  in  the  mead  she  found  where  springs 
The  lotus  ;  like  two  lions  for  a  den 

With  spears  had  they  been  fighting :  from  their  wounds, 
Now  stiff  and  cold,  scarce  oozed  the  clotted  gore, 
Which  Mars  for  a  libation  had  bestowed 
On  ruthless  Pluto  :  snatching  from  the  dead 
A  brazen  sword,  she  plunged  it  in  her  breast  : 
Slain  by  the  luckless  weapon  of  her  sons, 
Close  to  her  sons  thus  fell  she.     On  this  day 
The  god  who  wrought  such  horrors,  O  my  sire. 
Hath  poured  forth  his  collected  stores  of  wrath 
On  this  devoted  house. 

Chor.  This  day  hath  proved 

A  source  of  many  evils  to  the  house 
Of  Qidipus  ;  may  more  auspicious  fates 
On  the  remainder  of  his  life  attend  ! 

Cre.  Your  lamentations  cease,  for  it  is  time 
To  mention  the  interment  of  the  dead. 
But  to  my  words,  O  Q^dipus,  attend  : 
Eteocles  thy  son  hath  to  these  hands 
Consigned  the  sceptre  of  the  Theban  realm, 
On  Hccmon,  at  his  nuptials  with  thy  daughter 
Antigone,  to  be  bestowed  in  dower  : 
I  for  this  cause  no  longer  can  allow  thee 
Here  to  reside  :  for  in  the  clearest  terms 
Tiresias  has  pronounced  that,  while  thou  dwell'st 
In  these  domains,  Thebes  never  can  be  blest. 
Therefore  depart.     Nor  through  a  wanton  pride, 
Nor  any  hate  I  bear  thee,  do  I  hold 
Such  langunge,  but  because  I  justly  dread 
Thy  evil  genius  will  destroy  this  lar.d. 


CEd.  How  wretched  from  the  moment  of  my  birth 
Me  hast  thou  made,  O  flUe,  if  ever  man 
Knew  misery  :  ere  I  from  my  mother's  womb 
Was  to  the  light  brought  forth,  Apollo  warned 
The  royal  Laius  with  prophetic  voice, 
That  I,  his  future  child,  who  'gainst  the  will 
Of  Heaven  had  been  begotten,  should  become 
The  murderer  of  my  father.     Wretched  me  ! 
But  soon  as  I  was  born  he  who  begot 
Souglit  to  destroy  me,  for  in  me  a  foe 
He  deemed  would  view  the  sun  :  but  'twas  ordained 
That  I  should  slay  him.     While  I  yet  was  loth 
To  quit  the  breast,  he  sent  me  for  a  prey 
To  savage  beasts  ;  I  'scaped  :  but  would  to  Heaven 
Cithaeron  had,  for  saving  me,  been  plunged 
Into  the  fathomless  and  yawning  gulf 
Of  Tartarus  !     Fortune  gave  me  for  a  servant 
To  Polybus.     But  having  slain  my  sire, 
Wretch  that  I  am,  my  hapless  mother's  bed 
Ascending,  thence  did  I  at  once  beget 
Both  sons  and  brothers  :  them  have  I  destroyed 
By  showering  down  on  my  devoted  race 
The  curses  I  inherited  from  Laius. 
Yet  was  not  I  by  nature  made  so  void 
Of  understanding  as  to  form  a  plot 
'Gainst  my  own  eyesight  or  my  children's  lives, 
Unless  some  god  had  interfered.     No  more. 
What  shall  I  do  ?    Ah  me  !  what  faithful  guide 
My  feet,  through  blindness  tottering,  will  attend .'' 
Jocasta  the  deceased  ?     While  yet  she  lived, 
I  know  she  would.    Or  my  two  noble  sons  "i 
They  are  no  more.     Have  not  I  youth  still  left 
Sufficient  to  find  means  to  gain  me  food  ? 
But  where  shall  I  procure  it  ?    Or  why  thus, 
O  Creon,  do  you  utterly  destroy  me  ? 
For  you  will  take  away  my  poor  remains 
Of  life,  if  you  expel  me  from  this  land. 
Yet  will  not  I,  by  twining  round  your  knees 
These  arms,  put  on  the  semblance  of  a  dastard  : 


For  the  renown  I  gained  in  days  of  yore, 
Tliough  miserable,  I  never  will  belie. 

Cre.  Thou  with  a  manly  spirit  hast  refused 
To  clasp  my  knees  ;  but  in  the  Theban  realm 
No  longer  can  I  suffer  thee  to  dwell. 
Of  the  deceased,  the  one  into  the  palace 
Mu=t  be  conveyed  ;  but  as  for  him  who  came 
With  foreign  troops  to  lay  his  country  waste, 
The  corse  of  Polynices,  cast  it  forth 
Unburied  from  the  confines  of  this  land. 
This  edict,  by  a  herald,  to  all  Thebes 
Will  I  announce  ;  whoe'er  shall  be  detected 
Adorning  with  a  garland  his  remains, 
Or  o'er  them  scattering  earth,  shall  be  with  death 
Requited  :  for,  unwept  and  uninterred, 
He  for  a  prey  to  vultures  must  be  left. 
No  longer,  O  Antigone,  lament 
O'er  these  three  breathless  corses,  but  with  speed 
To  your  apartment  go,  and  there  remain 
Amidst  your  virgin  comrades  till  to-morrow, 
When  Haemon's  bed  awaits  you. 

Ant.  O  my  sire, 

Into  what  hopeless  misery  art  thou  plunged  ! 
For  thee  far  more  than  for  the  dead  I  moan  ; 
Thou  hast  not  aught  to  make  thy  weight  of  woe 
Less  grievous :  the  afflictions  thou  endur'st 
Are  universal.     But,  O  thou  new  king, 
Of  thee  I  ask,  why  dost  thou  treat  my  father 
With  scorn,  why  banish  him  from  Thebes,  why  frame 
Harsh  laws  against  a  wretched  corse .'' 

Cre.  Such  counsels 

Were  by  Eteocles,  not  me,  devised. 

Ant.  Devoid  of  sense  are  they  ;  thou,  too,  art  frantic, 
Who  these  decrees  obey'st. 

Cre.  Is  it  not  just 

To  execute  th'  injunctions  we  receive  ? 

Ant.  No,  not  if  they  are  base  and  ill-advised. 

Cre.  What  mean  you  1     Can  it  be  unjust  to  cast 
His  bodv  to  the  do<TS  ? 


Ant.  a  lawless  vengeance 

Is  this  which  ye  exact. 

Cre.  Because  he  waged 

An  impious  war  against  his  native  city. 

Ant.  Hath  not  he  yielded  up  his  life  to  fate .'' 

Cre.  He  shall  be  punished  also  in  the  los5 
Of  sepulture. 

Ant.  Wherein,  if  he  required 

His  portion  of  the  realm,  did  he  transgress  1 

Cre.  Know  then  he  shall  remain  without  a  grave. 

Ant.  I  will  inter  him,  though  the  state  forbid. 

Cre.  You  shall  be  buried  with  him. 

Ant.  For  two  friends 

'Twere  glorious  in  their  death  to  be  united. 

Cre.  Seize  and  convey  her  home. 

Ant.  I  will  not  loose 

My  hold,  nor  shall  ye  tear  me  from  his  body. 

Cre.  O  virgin,  the  decrees  of  fate  are  such 
As  thwart  your  wayward  views. 

Ant.  It  is  decreed, 

No  insults  shall  be  offered  to  the  dead. 

Cre.  Over  this  corse  let  none  presume  to  strew 
The  moistened  dust. 

Ant.  Thee,  Creon,  I  implore 

By  my  loved  mother,  by  Jocasta's  shade. 

Cre.  In  vain  are  your  entreaties  :  such  request 
I  cannot  grant. 

Ant.  But  suffer  me  to  lave 

The  body — 

Cre.  I  this  interdict  must  add 

To  those  which  through  the  city  are  proclaimed. 

Ant.  And  close  with  bandages  his  gaping  wounds. 

Cre.  To  his  remains  no  honours  shall  you  pay. 

Ant.  Yet,  O  my  dearest  brother,  on  thy  lips 
This  kiss  will  I  imprint. 

Cre.  Nor  by  these  plaints 

Make  your  espousals  wretched. 

Ant.  Dar'st  thou  think 

That  I  will  ever  Uve  to  wed  thy  son  ? 


Cre.  You  by  necessity's  superior  force 
Will  be  constrained.     For  how  can  you  escape 
The  nuptial  bond  ? 

Ant.  I  on  that  night  will  act 

Like  one  of  Danaus'  daughters. 

Cre.  Marked  ye  not 

How  boldly,  with  what  arrogance  she  spoke  ? 

Ant.  Bear  witness,  O  my  dagger,  to  the  oath. 

Cre.  Why  from  this  wedlock  wish  you  to  be  freed  ? 

Ant.  My  miserable  father  in  his  flight 
I  will  attend. 

Cre.  a  generous  soul  is  yours, 

Abundant  folly  too. 

Ant.  I  am  resolved 

To  share  his  death  ;  of  that,  too,  be  assured. 

Cre.  Go,  leave  this  realm;  you  shall  not  slay  my  son. 

{Exit  Creon. 

CEd.  Thee,  for  thy  zeal,  my  daughter,  I  applaud. 

Ant.  How  can  I  wed,  while  you  my  father  roam 
A  solitary  exile  ? 

CEd,  To  enjoy 

Thy  better  fortunes,  stay  thou  here :  my  woes 
I  will  endure  with  patience. 

Ant.  Who,  my  sire, 

Shall  minister  to  you  deprived  of  sight  ? 

CEd.  I,  in  whatever  field  the  fates  ordain 
Thnt  I  shall  fall,  must  lie. 

Ant.  Where's  CEdipus, 

And  that  famed  riddle  } 

CEd.  Lost,  for  ever  lost : 

My  prosperous  fortunes  from  one  single  day, 
And  from  one  day  my  mi  11  I  derive. 

Ant,  May  not  I  also  be  allowed  to  take 
A  part  in  your  afflictions  ? 

CEd.  'Tv%-ere  unseemly 

For  thee,  my  daughter,  from  this  land  to  roam 
With  thy  blind  father. 

ANt.  To  a  virtuous  maid 

Not  base,  my  sire,  but  noble. 


G£d.  Lead  me  on, 

That  I  may  touch  thy  mother. 

Ant.  Here  she  lies  : 

Clasp  that  dear  object  in  your  aged  arms. 

CEd.  O  mother,  O  my  miserable  wife  ! 

Ant.  a  piteous  spectacle,  o'erwhelmed  at  once 
By  every  ill. 

OEd.  But  Where's  Eteocles' 

And  Polynices'  corse  ? 

Ant.  Stretched  on  the  ground 

Close  to  each  other. 

CEd.  a  blind  father's  hand 

Place  on  the  visage  of  each  hapless  youth. 

Ant.  Lo,  here  they  are  !    Stretch  forth  your  hand,  and 
Your  breathless  sons. 

CEd.  Remains  of  those  I  loved, 

The  wretched  offspring  of  a  wretched  sire. 

Ant.  Thy  name,  O  Polynices,  shall  thy  sister 
For  ever  hold  most  dear. 

CEd.  Now,  O  my  daughter, 

The  oracle  of  Phoebus  is  fulfilled. 

Ant.  What  oracle  ?     Speak  you  of  any  woes 
We  have  not  yet  experienced .'' 

CEd.  That  in  Athens 

An  exile  I  shall  die. 

Ant.  Where?   In  the  realm 

Of  Attica,  what  turret  shall  receive  you  ? 

CEd.  Coloneus'  fane,  where  Neptune's  altars  rise. 
But  haste,  and  minister  with  duteous  zeal 
To  thy  blind  father,  since  to  share  my  flight 
Was  thy  most  earnest  wish. 

Ant.  My  aged  sire, 

Into  a  wretched  banishment  go  forth  : 
O  give  me  that  dear  hand,  for  I  will  guide 
Your  tottering  steps,  as  prosperous  gales  assist 
The  voyage  of  the  bark. 

CEd.  Lo,  I  advance  : 

Do  thou  conduct  me,  O  my  hapless  daughter. 


Ant.  I  am  indeed  of  all  the  Theban  maids 
The  most  unhappy. 

CEd.  My  decrepit  feet 

Where  shall  I  place  }    O  daughter,  with  a  stoff 
Furnish  this  hand. 

Ant.  Come  hither,  O  my  sire. 

Here  rest  your  feet  :  for,  like  an  empty  dream, 
Your  strength  is  but  mere  semblance. 

CEd.  Grievous  exile. 

A  weak  old  man,  he  from  his  native  land 
Drives  forth.     My  sufferings  are,  alas  !  most  dreadful. 

Ant.  What  is  there  in  the  sufferings  you  complain  of 
Peculiarly  distressful  ?     Doth  not  justice 
Behold  the  sinner,  and  with  penal  strictness 
Each  foolish  action  of  mankind  repay .'' 

QLd.  Still  am  I  he  whom  the  victorious  Muse 
Exalted  to  the  skies  when  I  explained 
The  dark  enigma  by  that  fiend  proposed. 

Ant.  Why  speak  of  the  renown  which  you  obtained 
When  you  o'ercame  the  Sphinx  ?     Cease  to  recount 
Past  happiness.     For,  O  my  sire,  this  curse 
Awaited  you,  an  exile  from  your  country 
To  die  we  know  not  where.     My  virgin  comrades 
Leaving  to  wail  my  absence,  I  depart, 
Far  from  my  native  land  ordained  to  roam 
Unlike  a  bashful  maid. 

CEd.  How  is  thy  soul 

With  matchless  generosity  endued  ! 

Ant.  Such  conduct  'midst  my  father's  woes  shall 
My  name  illustrious.     Yet  am  I  unhappy 
Through  the  foul  scorn  with  which  they  treat  my  brother. 
Whose  weltering  corse  without  these  gates  is  thrown 
Unburied.     His  remains,  ill-fated  youth. 
Though  death  should  be  the  punishment,  with  earth 
I  privately  will  cover,  O  my  sire. 

CEd.  Go  join  thy  comrades. 

Ant.  Willi  loud  plaints  enough 

Have  I  assailed  the  ear  of  every  friend. 


(Ed.  But  at  the  altars  thou  must  offer  up 
Thy  supplications. 

Ant.  They  with  my  distress 

Are  satiated. 

GBd  .  To  Bacchus'  temple  then 

Repair,  on  that  steep  mountain  where  no  step 
Profane  invades  his  orgies,  chosen  haunt 
Of  his  own  Maenades. 

Ant.  Erst  in  the  hides 

Of  Theban  stags  arrayed,  I  on  these  hills 
Joined  in  the  dance  of  Semele,  bestowing 
A  homage  they  approved  not  on  the  gods. 

CEd.  Illustrious  citizens  of  Thebes,  behold 
That  (Edipus,  who  the  enigma  solved — 
The  first  of  men  when  I  had  singly  quelled 
The  Sphinx's  ruthless  power,  but  now  o'erwhelmed 
With  infamy,  I  from  this  land  am  driven 
A  miserable  exile.     But  why  groan, 
Why  utter  fruitless  plaints  ?     For  man  is  bound 
To  bear  the  doom  which  righteous  Heaven  awards. 

Chor.  O  venerable  victory,  take  possession 
Of  my  whole  life,  nor  ever  cease  to  twine 
Around  these  brows  thy  laureate  wreath  divine. 

The    Suppliants. 



Chorus  of  Argive  Matrons. 







A  Boy,  supposed  to  be  Melon,  the 

son  of 'E.iKOCLVS. 

SCENE— The  Temple  of  Ceres,  at  Eleusine,  in  the 
Athenian  Territory, 

iExHRA,  Chorus,  Adrastus. 

JEt.  Thou  guardian  power  of  Eleusine's  land, 

0  Ceres,  and  ye  venerable  priests 

Of  that  benignant  goddess,  who  attend 
This  temple,  blessings  for  myself  I  crave, 
For  my  son  Theseus,  Athens,  and  the  realm 
Of  Pitheus,  who,  when  his  paternal  care 
Had  reared  my  childhood  in  a  wealthy  house, 
Gave  me  to  ^geus,  to  Pandion's  son  ; 
So  Phoebus'  oracles  decreed.     These  prayers 

1  offered  up  when  I  yon  aged  matrons 
Beheld,  who  their  abodes  at  Argos  leave, 
And  with  their  suppliant  branches  at  my  knees 
Fall  prostrate,  having  suffered  dreadful  woes : 
Now  are  they  childless  ;  for  before  the  gates 

Of  Thebes  were  slain  their  seven  illustrious  sons, 
Whom  erst  Adrastus,  King  of  Argos,  led 
To  battje,  when  for  exiled  Polynices, 


His  son-in-law,  he  strove  to  gain  a  share 

Of  CEdipus'  inheritance.     The  corses 

Of  those  who  by  the  hostile  spear  were  slain 

Their  mothers  would  consign  to  earth  ;  but,  spurning 

The  laws  which  righteous  Heaven  ordained,  the  victors' 

Will  not  allow  them  to  remove  the  dead. 

But  needing  equally  with  them  my  succour 

Adrastus,  shedding  many  a  tear,  lies  stretched 

On  earth,  bewailing  the  disastrous  fate 

Of  those  brave  troops  whom  he  to  battle  led. 

Oft  he  conjures  me  to  implore  my  son, 

Either  by  treaty,  or  his  forceful  spear, 

Back  from  those  hostile  fields  to  bring  the  slain 

And  lodge  them  in  a  tomb :  on  him  alone 

And  Athens  he  this  honourable  task 

Imposes.     Hither  were  the  victims  borne, 

That  we  a  prosperous  tillage  may  obtain. 

And  for  this  cause  I  from  my  house  am  come 

Into  this  temple,  where  the  bearded  grain 

P'irst  rising  from  the  fruitful  soil  appeared. 

Holding  loose  sprays  of  foliage  in  my  hand, 

1  wait  before  the  unpolluted  altars 

Of  Proserpine  and  Ceres  ;  for  these  mothers. 

Grown  hoar  with  age  and  of  their  children  reft. 

With  pity  moved,  and  to  the  sacred  branches 

Yielding  a  due  respect.     I  to  the  city 

Have  s-.nt  a  herald  to  call  Theseus  hither, 

That  from  the  Theban  land  he  may  remove 

The  causes  of  their  sorrow,  or  the  gods 

Appeasing  by  some  pious  rites,  release  me 

From  the  constraint  these  suppliant  dames  impose. 

In  all  emergencies  discretion  bids 

Our  feeble  sex  to  seek  man's  needful  aid. 

Chor.  An  aged  woman  prostrate  at  thy  knees, 
Thee  I  implore  my  children  to  redeem, 
Who  welter  on  a  foreign  plain,  unnerved 
By  death  and  to  the  savage  beasts  a  prey  : 
Thou  see;t  the  piteous  tears  which  from  these  eyes 
Unbidden  start,  and  torn  with  desperate  hands 


My  wrinkled  flesh.     What  hope  remains  lor  me, 

Who  neither,  at  my  home,  have  been  allowed 

The  corses  of  my  children  to  stretch  forth, 

Nor,  heaped  with  earth,  behold  their  tombs  arise  ? 

Thou,  too,  illustrious  dame,  hast  borne  a  son 

Crowning  the  utmost  wishes  of  thy  lord, 

Speak,  therefore,  what  thou  think'st  of  our  distress, 

In  language  suited  to  the  griefs  I  feel 

For  the  deceased  whom  I  brought  forth  ;  persuade 

Thy  son,  whose  succour  we  implore,  to  march 

Across  Ismenos'  channel,  and  consign 

To  me  the  bodies  of  the  slaughtered  youths, 

That  I  beneath  the  monumental  stone 

May  bury  them  with  every  sacred  rite. 

Though  not  by  mere  necessity  constrained, 

We  at  thy  knees  fall  down  and  urge  our  suit 

Before  these  altars  of  the  gods,  where  smokes 

The  frequent  incense:  for  our  cause  is  just : 

And  through  the  prosperous  fortunes  of  thy  son, 

With  power  sufficient  to  remove  our  woes 

Art  thou  endued  :  but  since  the  ills  I  suffer 

Thy  pity  claim,  a  miserable  suppliant, 

I  crave  that  t )  these  arms  thou  wouldst  restore 

My  son,  and  grant  me  to  embrace  his  corse. 


.^T.  Here  a  fresh  group  of  mourners  stands, 

Your  followers  in  succession  wring  their  hands. 
Chor.  Attune  expressive  notes  of  anguish, 
O  ye  sympathetic  choir, 
And  in  harmonious  accents  languish. 

Such  as  Pluto  loves  t'  inspire. 
Tear  those  cheeks  of  pallid  hue, 

And  let  gore  your  bosoms  stain, 
For  from  the  living  is  such  honour  due 
To  the  shades  of  heroes  slain, 
Whose  corses  welter  on  th'  embattled  pi  .in. 



I  fee]  a  pleasing  sad  relief, 
Unsated  as  I  biood  o'er  scenes  of  griei; 
My  lamentations,  never  ending. 
Are  like  the  moisture  of  the  sea 
In  drops  from  some  high  rock  descending, 

Which  flows  to  all  eternity. 
For  those  youths  who  breathe  no  more 
Nature  bids  the  mother  weep, 
And  with  incessant  tears  their  loss  deplore  : 

In  oblivion  would  I  steep 
My  woes,  and  welcome  death's  perpetual  sleep. 

Theseus,  ^thra,  Adrastus,  Chorus. 

The.  What  plaints  ^re  these  I  hear  ?    Who  strike  their 
Attuning  lamentations  for  the  dead 
In  such  loud  notes  as  issue  from  the  fane  ? 
Borne  hither  by  my  fears  with  winged  speed, 
I  come  to  see  if  any  recent  ill       .  ,  r  . 
May  have  befallen  my  mother  ;  she  from  home 
Hath  long  been  absent.     Ha  !  what  objects  new 
And  strange  are  these  which  now  mine  eyes  behold .'' 
Fresh  questions  hence  arise  :  my  aged  mother 
Close  to  the  altar  seated  with  a  band 
Of  foreign  matrons,  who  their  woes  express 
In  various  warbled  notes,  and  on  the  ground, 
Shed  from  their  venerable  eyes  a  stream 
Of  tears  :  their  heads  are  shorn,  nor  is  their  garb 
Suited  to  those  who  tend  the  sacred  rites .'' 
What  means  all  this  ?     My  mother,  say ;  from  you 
I  wait  for  information,  and  expect 
Some  tidings  of  importance. 

.^T.  O  my  son, 

These  are  the  mothers  of  those  seven  famed  chiefs 
Who  perished  at  the  gates  of  Thebes :  you  see 
How  they  with  suppliant  branches  on  all  sides 
Encompass  me. 


The.  But  who  is  he  who  groans 

So  piteously,  stretched  forth  before  the  gate? 

JEl.  Adi-astus,  they  inform  me,  king  of  Argos. 

The.  Are  they  who  stand  around  those  matrons'  sons  ? 

Ml.  Not  theirs  ;  they  are  the  children  of  the  slain. 

The.  Why  with  those  suppHant  tokens  in  their  hands 
Come  they  to  us  ? 

JEt.  I  know :  but  it  behoves 

Them,  O  my  son,  their  errand  to  unfold. 

The.  To  thee  who  in  a  ileecy  cloak  art  wrapped, 
My  questions  I  address  :  thy  head  unveil. 
Cease  to  lament,  and  speak  ;  for  while  thy  tongue 
Utters  no  accent  nought  canst  thou  obtain. 

Adr.  O  king  of  the  Athenian  land,  renowned 
For  your  victorious  arms,  to  you,  O  TheseuS, 
And  to  your  city,  I  a  suppliant  come. 

The.  What's  thy  pursuit,  and  what  is  it  thou  need'st  ? 

Adr.  Know  you  not  how  ill-fated  was  the  host 
lied  ? 

The.  Thou  didst  not  pass  through  Greece  in  silence. 

Adr.  The  noblest  youths  of  Argos  there  I  lost. 

The.  Such  dire  effects  from  luckless  war  arise. 

Adr.  From  Thebes  I  claimed  the  bodies  of  the  slain. 

The.  Didst  thou  rely  on  heralds  to  procure 
Leave  to  inter  the  dead .'' 

Adr.  But  they  who  slew  them 

Deny  this  favour. 

The.  What  can  they  allege 

'Gainst  a  request  which  justice  must  approve .-' 

Adr.  Ask  not  the  reason  :  they  are  now  elate 
With  a  success  they  know  not  how  to  beai. 

The.  Art  thou  come  hither  to  consult  me  then, 
Or  on  what  errand  ? 

Adr.  'Tis  my  wish,  O  Theseus, 

That  you  the  sons  of  Argos  would  redeem. 

The.  But  where  is  Argos  now  .''   Were  all  her  boasts 
Of  no  effect  ? 

Adr.  We  by  this  one  defeat 

Are  ruined,  and  to  you  for  succour  come. 

H  2 


The.  This  on  thy  private  judgment,  or  the  voice 
Of  the  whole  city  ? 

Adr.  All  the  race  of  Danaus 

Implore  you  to  inter  the  slain. 

The.  Why  led'st  thou 

'Gainst  Tliebes  seven  squadrons  ? 

Adr.  To  confer  a  favour 

On  my  two  sons-in-law. 

The.  To  what  brave  chiefs 

Of  Argos  didst  thou  give  thy  daughters'  hands  ? 

Adr.  My  family  in  wedlock  I  with  those 
Of  our  own  nation  joined  not. 

The.  Didst  thou  yield 

Those  Argive  damsels  to  some  foreign  bridegrooms? 

Adr.  To  Tydeus,  and  to  Polynices,  sprung 
From  Theban  sires. 

The.  What  dotage  could  induce  thee 

To  form  alliances  like  these  1 

Adr.  Dark  riddles 

Phoebus  propounded,  which  my  judgment  swayed. 

The.  Such  union  for  the  virgins  to  prescribe, 
What  said  Apollo  ? 

Adr.  That  I  must  bestow 

My  daughters  on  the  lion  and  the  boar. 

The.  But  how  didst  thou  interpret  this  response 
Of  the  prophetic  god  ? 

Adr.  By  night  two  exiles 

Came  to  my  door. 

The.  Say,  who  and  who  :  thou  speak'st 

Of  both  at  once. 

Adr.  Together  Tydeus  fought 

And  Polynices. 

The.  Hence  didst  thou  on  them 

As  on  ferocious  beasts  bestow  thy  daughters  ? 

Adr.  Their  combat  that  of  savages  I  deemed. 

The.  Why  did  they  leave  their  native  land  ? 

Adr.  Thence  fled 

Tydeus  polluted  with  his  brother's  gore. 

The.  But  why  did  CEdipus'  son  forsake 
The  Theban  realm .? 


Adr.  The  curses  of  his  sire 

Thence  drove  him,  lest  his  brother  he  should  slay. 

The.  a  prudent  cause  for  this  spontaneous  exile 
Hast  thou  assigned. 

Adr.  But  they  who  stayed  at  home 

Oppressed  the  absent. 

The.  Did  his  brother  rob  him 

Of  the  inheritance  ? 

Adr.  I  to  decide 

This  contest  went,  and  hence  am  I  undone. 

The.  Didst  thou  consult  the  seers,  and  from  the  altar 
Behold  the  flames  of  sacrifice  ascend  ? 

Adr.  Alas  !  you  urge  me  on  that  very  point 
Where  most  I  failed. 

The.  Thou  led'st  thy  troops,  it  seems, 

Although  the  gods  approved  not,  to  the  field. 

Adr.  Yet  more,  Amphiareus  opposed  our  march. 

The.  Didst    thou  thus    lightly   thwart   the    will    of 
Heaven  ? 

Adr.  I  by  the  clamorous  zeal  of  younger  men 
Was  hurried  on. 

The.  Regardless  of  discretion, 

Thy  courage  thou  didst  follow. 

Adr.  Many  a  chief 

Hath  such  misconduct  utterly  destroyed. 
But  O  most  dauntless  of  the  Grecian  race, 
Monarch  of  the  Athenian  realm  ;  I  blush, 
Thus  prostrate  on  the  ground,  to  clasp  your  knees, 
Grown  grey  with  age,  and  once  a  happy  king  ! 
But  I  to  my  calamities  must  yield. 
Redeem  the  dead,  in  pity  to  my  woes, 
And  to  these  mothers  of  their  sons  bereft, 
To  whom  the  burdens  which  on  hoary  age 
Attend  are  added  to  their  childless  state. 
Yet  hither  they  endured  to  come,  and  tread 
A  foreign  soil,  though  their  decrepit  feet 
Could  hardly  move :  the  embassy  they  bring 
Hath  no  connection  with  the  mystic  rites 
Of  Ceres  ;  all  they  crave  is  to  inter 
The  slain,  as  Ihey  at  their  mature  decease 


Would  from  their  sons  such  honours  have  obtained. 

'Tis  wisdom  in  the  opulent  to  look 

With  pity  on  the  sorrows  of  the  poor, 

And  in  the  poor  man  to  look  up  to  those 

Who  have  abundant  riches,  as  examples 

For  him  to  imitate,  and  thence  acquire 

A  wish  his  own  possessions  to  improve. 

They  too  who  are  with  prosperous  fortunes  blest 

Should  feel  a  prudent  dread  of  future  woes  ; 

And  let  the  bard  who  frames  the  harmonious  strain 

Exert  his  genius  in  a  cheerful  hour. 

For  if  his  own  sensations  are  unlike 

Those  which  he  speaks  of,  never  can  the  wretch 

Who  by  affliction  is  at  home  oppiest 

Give  joy  to  others  :  there's  no  ground  for  this. 

But  you  perhaps  will  ask  me :  "  Passing  o'er 

The  land  of  Pelops,  why  would  you  impose 

Such  toil  on  the  Athenians .'' "   This  reply 

Have  I  a  right  to  make  :  "  The  Spartan  realm 

Is  prone  to  cruelty,  and  in  its  manners 

Too  variable  •,  its  other  states  are  small 

And  destitute  of  strength ;  your  city  only 

To  this  emprise  is  equal,  for  'tis  wont 

To  pity  the  distressed,  and  hath  in  you 

A  valiant  king  ;  for  want  of  such  a  chief 

Have  many  cities  perished." 

Chor.  I  address  thee 

In  the  same  language ;  to  our  woes,  O  Theseus, 
Extend  thy  pity. 

The.  I  with  others  erst 

Have  on  this  subject  held  a  strong  dispute ; 
For  some  there  are  who  say  the  ills  which  wait 
On  man  exceed  his  joys  ;  but  I  maintain 
The  contrary  opinion,  that  our  lives 
More  bliss  than  woe  experience.     For  if  this 
Were  not  the  fact,  we  could  not  still  continue 
To  view  the  sun.     That  god,  whoe'er  he  was, 
I  praise,  who  severed  mortals  from  a  life 
Of  wild  confusion  and  of  brutal  force, 


Implanting  reason  first,  and  then  a  tongue 

That  might  by  sounds  articulate  proclaim 

Our  thoughts,  bestowing  fruit  for  food,  and  drops 

Of  rain  descending  from  the  skies,  to  nourish 

Earth's  products  and  refresh  the  thirst  of  man, 

Yet  more,  fit  coverings,  from  the  wintry  cold 

To  guard  us,  and  Hyperion's  scorching  rays  ; 

The  art  of  sailing  o'er  the  briny  deep, 

That  we  by  commerce  may  supply  the  wants 

Of  distant  regions,  to  these  gifts  by  Heaven 

Is  added  ;  things  the  most  obscure,  and  placed 

Beyond  our  knowledge,  can  the  seer  foretell, 

By  gazing  on  the  flames  which  from  the  altar " 

Ascend  the  skies,  the  entrails  of  the  victims, 

And  flight  of  birds.     Are  we  not  then  puffed  up 

With  vanity,  if,  when  the  gods  bestow 

Conveniences  like  these  on  life,  we  deem 

Their  bounty  insufficient  ?     Our  conceit 

Is  such,  we  aim  to  be  more  strong  than  Jove  ; 

Though  pride  of  soul  be  all  that  we  possess, 

We  in  our  own  opinion  are  more  wise 

Than  th'  immortal  powers.     To  me  thou  seem'st 

One  of  this  number,  O  thou  wretch  devoid 

Of  reason,  to  Apollo's  mystic  voice 

Yielding  blind  deference,  who  thy  daughters  gav'st 

To  foreign  lords,  as  if  the  gods  were  swayed 

By  human  passions.     Thy  illustrious  blood 

With  foul  pollution  mingling,  thine  own  house 

Thus  hast  thou  wounded.     Never  should  the  wise 

In  leagues  of  inauspicious  wedlock  yoke 

Just  and  unjust:  but  prosperous  friends  obtain 

Against  the  hour  of  danger.    Jove,  to  all 

One  common  fate  dispensing,  oft  involves 

In  the  calamities  which  guilt  draws  down 

Upon  the  sinner  him  who  ne'er  transgressed. 

But  thou,  by  leading  forth  that  Argive  host 

To  battle,  though  the  seers  in  vain  forbad, 

Despising  each  oracular  response. 

And  wilfully  regardless  of  the  gods, 


Hast  caused  thy  country's  ruin,  overruled 
By  those  young  men  who  place  their  sole  delight 
In  glory,  and  promote  unrighteous  wars, 
Corrupting  a  whole  city;  this  aspires 
To  the  command  of  armies,  by  the  pomp 
Attending  those  who  hold  the  reins  of  power 
A  second  is  corrupted ;  some  there  are 
Studious  of  filthy  lucre,  who  regard  not 
What  mischief  to  the  public  may  ensue. 
Three  ranks  there  are  of  citizens  :  the  rich, 
Useless,  and  ever  grasping  after  more  ; 
While  they,  who  have  no  property,  and  lack 
E'en  necessary  food,  by  fierce  despair 
And  envy  actuated,  send  forth  their  stings 
Against  the  wealthy,  by  th'  insidious  tongue 
Of  some  malignant  demagogue  beguiled  ; 
But  of  these  three  the  middle  rank  consists 
Of  those  who  save  their  country,  and  enforce 
Each  wholesome  usage  which  the  state  ordains. 
Shall  I  then  be  thy  champion  t    What  pretence 
That  would  sound  honourably  can  I  allege 
To  gain  my  countrymen  ?     Depart  in  peace! 
For  baleful  are  the  counsels  thou  hast  given 
That  we  should  urge  prosperity  too  far. 

Chor.  He  did  amiss  :  but  the  great  error  rests 
On  those  young  men,  and  he  deserves  thy  pardon. 

Adr.  I  have  not  chosen  you  to  be  the  judge 
Of  my  afflictions,  but  to  you,  O  king, 
As  a  physician  come  :  nor,  if  convicted 
Of  having  done  amiss,  to  an  avenger 
Or  an  opprobrious  censor,  but  a  friend 
Who  will  afford  his  help  :  if  you  refuse 
To  act  this  generous  part,  to  your  decision 
I  must  submit  :  for  what  resource  have  I  "i 
But,  O  ye  venerable  dames,  retire, 
Leaving  those  verdant  branches  here  behind, 
And  call  to  witness  the  celestial  powers. 
The  fruitful  earth  with  Ceres  lifting  high 
Her  torch,  and  that  exhaustless  source  of  light, 


The  sun,  that  we  by  all  the  gods  in  vain 

Conjured  you.     (It  is  pious  to  relieve 

Those  who  unjustly  suliFer,  and  the  tears 

Of  these  your  hapless  kindred  are  you  bound 

To  reverence,  for  your  mother  was  the  daughter 

Of  Pitheus.)    Pelops'  son,  born  \\\  that  land 

Which  bears  the  name  of  Pelops,  we  partake 

One  origin  with  you  :  will  >  ou  betray 

These  sacred  ties,  and  from  your  realm  cast  forth 

Yon  hoary  suppliants,  nor  allow  the  boon 

Which  at  your  hands  they  merit  ?    Act  not  thus  ; 

For  in  the  rocks  hath  the  wild  beast  a  place 

Of  refuge,  in  the  altars  of  the  gods 

The  slave  :  a  city  harassed  by  the  storm 

Flies  to  some  neighbouring  city :  for  there's  nought 

On  earth  that  meets  with  everlasting  bliss. 

Chor.  Rise,  hapless  woman,  from  this  hallowed  fane 
Of  Proserpine,  to  meet  him  ;  clasp  his  knees, 
Entreat  him  to  bestow  funereal  rites 
On  our  slain  sons,  whom  in  the  bloom  of  youth 
Beneath  the  walls  of  Thebes  I  lost :  my  friends 
Lift  from  the  ground,  support  me,  bear  along, 
Stretch  forth  these  miserable,  these  aged  hands. 
Thee,  O  thou  most  beloved  and  most  renowned 
Of  Grecian  chiefs,  I  by  that  beard  conjure. 
While  at  thy  knees,  thus  prostrate  on  the  ground, 
I  for  my  sons,  a  wretched  suppliant  sue. 
Or,  like  some  helpless  vagabond,  pour  forth 
The  warbled  lamentation.     Generous  youth, 
Thee  I  entreat  ;  let  not  my  sons,  whose  age 
Was  but  the  same  as  thine,  in  Thebes  remain 
Unburied,  for  the  sport  of  savage  beasts  i 
Behold  what  tears  stre  .m  from  these  swimming  eyes. 
As  thus  I  kneel  before  thee,  to  procure 
For  my  slain  sons  an  honourable  grave. 

The.  Why,  O  my  mother,  do  you  shed  the  tear, 
Covering  your  eyes  with  that  transparent  veil  ? 
Is  it  because  you  heard  their  plaints  ?     I  too 
Am  much  affected.     Raise  your  hoary  head, 


Nor  weep  while  seated  at  the  holy  altar 
Of  Ceres. 

^T.         Ah ! 

The.  You  ought  not  thus  to  groan 

For  their  afflictions. 

^T.  O  ye  wretched  dames  ! 

The.  You  are  not  one  of  them. 

yEx.  Shall  I  propose 

A  scheme,  my  son,  your  glory  to  increase, 
And  that  of  Athens  1 

The.  Wisdom  oft  hath  flowed 

From  female  lips. 

^T,  I  meditated  words 

Of  such  importance,  that  they  make  me  pause. 

The.  You  speak  amiss,  we  from  our  friends  should  hide 
Nought  that  is  useful. 

M.'X.  If  I  now  were  mute 

Myself  hereafter  might  1  jusily  blame 
For  keeping  a  dishonourable  silence, 
Nor  through  the  fear  lest  eloquence  should  prove 
Of  no  effect,  when  issuing  from  the  mouth 
Of  a  weak  woman,  will  I  thus  forego 
An  honourable  task.     My  son,  I  first 
Exhort  you  to  regard  the  will  of  Heaven, 
Lest  through  neglect  you  err,  else  will  you  fail 
In  this  one  point,  though  you  in  all  beside 
Think  rig«htly.     I  moreover  still  had  kept 
My  temper  calm,  if  to  redress  the  wrongs 
Which  they  endure  an  enterprising  soul 
Had  not  been  requisite.     But  now,  my  son, 
A  field  of  glory  opens  to  your  view, 
Nor  these  bold  counsels  scruple  I  to  urge 
That  by  your  conquering  arm  you  would  compel 
Those  men  of  violence,  who  from  the  slain 
Withhold  their  just  inheritance  a  tomb, 
Such  necessary  duty  to  perform. 
And  quell  those  impious  miscreants  who  confound 
The  usages  established  through  ail  Greece : 
Yox  the  firm  bond  which  peopled  cities  holds 


In  union  is  th'  observance  of  the  laws. 

But  some  there  are  who  will  assert  "  that  fear 

Effeminately  caused  thee  to  forego 

Those  wreaths  of  fame  thy  country  might  have  gained; 

Erst  with  a  bristled  monster  of  the  woods 

Didst  thou  engage,  nor  shun  ih'  inglorious  strife  : 

But  now  called  forth  to  face  the  burnished  helm 

And  pointed  spear  art  found  to  be  a  dastard." 

Let  not  my  son  act  thus  :  your  native  land, 

Which  for  a  want  of  prudence  hath  been  scorned, 

You  see,  tremendous  as  a  gorgon,  rear 

Its  front  against  the  scorner  :  for  it  grows^ 

Under  the  pressure  of  severest  toils. 

The  deeds  of  peaceful  cities  are  obscure, 

And  caution  bounds  their  views.     Will  you  not  march, 

jVIy  son,  to  succour  the  illustrious  dead. 

And  these  afflicted  matrons .?     For  their  safety 

I  fear  not,  while  with  justice  you  go  forth 

To  battle.     Though  I  no\v  on  Cadmus'  sons 

Behold  auspicious  fortune  smile,  I  trust 

They  will  ere  long  experience  the  reverse 

Of  her  unstable  die  :  for  she  o'erturns 

All  that  is  great  and  glorious. 

Chor.  Dearest  ^thra. 

Well  didst  thou  plead  Adrastus'  cause  and  mine  : 
Hence  twofold  joy  I  feel. 

The.  He  hath  deserved, 

O  mother,  the  severe  reproofs  which  flowed 
From  my  indignant  tongue,  and  I  my  thoughts 
Of  those  pernicious  counsels  whence  arose 
His  ruin  have  expressed.     Yet  I  perceive 
What  you  suggest,  that  ill  would  it  becom 
The  character  I  have  maintained  to  fly 
From  danger.     After  many  glorious  deeds 
Achieved  among  the  Greeks,  I  chose  this  office. 
An  exemplary  punishment  t'  inflict 
On  all  the  wicked.     Therefore  from  no  toils 
Can  I  shrink  back,  for  what  would  those  who  hate  me 
Have  to  allege,  when  you  who  gave  me  birth, 

236  EURIPIDES.    . 

And  tremble  for  my  safety,  are  the  first 
Who  bid  me  enter  on  the  bold  emprise  ? 
I  on  this  errand  go,  and  will  redeem 
The  dead  by  words  persuasive,  or,  if  words 
Are  ineffectual,  with  protended  spear, 
And  in  an  instant,  if  the  envious  gods 
Refuse  not  their  assistance.     But  I  wish 
That  the  whole  city  may  a  sanction  give : 
They  to  my  pleasure  their  assent  would  yield  ; 
But  to  the  scheme,  if  I  propose  it  first 
To  be  debated,  I  shall  find  the  people 
More  favourable :  for  ihem  I  made  supreme. 
And  on  this  city,  with  an  equal  right 
Fcrali  to  vote,  its  freedom  have  bestowed. 
Taking  Adrastus  with  me  for  a  proof 
Of  my  assertions,  'midst  the  crowd  Til  go, 
And  when  I  have  persuaded  them,  collecting 
A  chosen  squadron  of  Athenian  youths. 
Hither  return,  and,  halting  under  arms, 
To  Creon  send  a  message  to  request 
The  bodies  of  the  slain.     But  from  my  mother. 
Ye  aged  dames,  those  holy  boughs  remove, 
That  I  may  take  her  by  that  much-loved  hand, 
And  to  the  royal  dome  of  ^geus  lead. 
Vile  is  that  son  who  to  his  parents  yields 
No  grateful  services,  for  from  his  children 
He  who  such  glorious  tribute  pays  receives 
Whate'er  through  filial  duty  he  bestowed. 


I.  I. 
O  Argos,  famed  for  steeds,  my  native  plain. 
Sure  thou,  with  all  Pelasgia's  wide  domain. 
Hast  heard  the  king's  benevolent  design, 
And  wilt  in  grateful  strains  revere  the  powers  divine. 

I.   2. 
May  Theseus  put  an  end  to  all  my  woes, 
Rescuing  those  bloody  corses  from  our  foes 


Still  objects  of  maternal  love  ;  his  aid 
Shall  by  th'  Inachian  realm's  attachment  be  repaid. 

II.   I. 
To  pious  deeds  belongs  a  mighty  name. 
And  cities  saved  procure  eternal  fame. 
Will  he  do  this — with  us  in  friendship  join, 
And  to  the  peaceful  tomb  our  slaughtered  sons  consign  ? 

II.  2. 
Minerva's  town,  support  a  mother's  cause, 
Thou  from  pollution  canst  preserve  the  laws 
Which  man  holds  sacred,  thou  rever'st  the  right, 
Sett'st  the  afflicted  free,  and  quell'st  outrageous  might. 

Theseus,  Adrastus,  Chorus. 

The.  [to  a  Herald.]  Thou,  always  practising  this  art, 
has  served 
Thy  city,  and  to  various  regions  borne 
My  embassies  :  when,  therefore,  thou  hast  crossed 
Asopus,  and  Ismenos'  stream,  address 
The  Theban  monarch  in  these  courteous  words  : 
"  Theseus,  who  dwells  in  an  adjacent  realm, 
And  hath  a  right  such  favour  to  receive, 
Requests  you  as  a  friend  t^  inter  the  dead. 
And  gain  the  love  of  all  Erectheus'  race." 
To  this  petition  if  they  yield  assent, 
Come  back  again  in  peace  :  if  they  refuse, 
Thy  second  message  shall  be  this  :  "  My  band 
Of  chosen  youths  in  glittering  mail  arra\  ed 
They  must  expect :  for  at  the  sacred  fount 
Callichore  e'en  now  the  assembled  host 
Halts  under  arms,  prepared  for  instant  fight." 
For  in  this  arduous  enterprise,  with  zeal 
The  city  of  its  own  accord  engaged, 
When  they  perceived  my  wish.     But  who  intrudes 
E'en  while  I  am  yet  speaking  }     He  appears 
To  be  a  Theban  herald,  though  I  doubt  it. 
Stay ;  for  thy  errand  he  may  supersede, 
And  by  his  coming  obviate  my  designs. 


Theban  Herald,  Theseus,  Adrastus,  Chorus. 

The.  Her.  Who  is  the  sovereign  ruler  of  this  land  ? 
To  whom  must  I  unfold  the  message  sent 
By  Creon,  who  presides  o'er  the  domains 
Of  Cadmus,  since  before  Thebes'  sevenfold  gates. 
Slain  by  his  brother  Polynices'  hand, 
Eteocles  expired  ? 

The.  With  an  untruth 

Thy  speech,  O  stranger,  hast  thou  oped  by  asking 
For  a  king  here  :  for  Athens,  this  free  city. 
By  no  one  man  is  governed,  but  the  people 
Rule  in  succession  year  by  year  ;  to  wealth 
No  preference  is  allowed,  but  the  poor  man 
An  equal  share  of  empire  doth  possess. 

The.  Her.  By  yielding  up  this  point,  to  me  you 
Advantage  such  as  equals  the  first  throw 
At  dice :  the  city  whence  I  came  is  ruled 
By  one  man  only,  not  by  multitudes  ; 
No  crafty  orator  with  specious  words 
For  his  own  interest  turns  the  wavering  minds 
Of  its  inhabitants,  this  moment  dear 
To  all  around  and  lavish  of  his  favours. 
The  next  a  public  bane,  yet  he  conceals 
By  some  fresh  calumny  his  errors  past. 
And  'scapes  the  stroke  of  justice.     How  can  they 
Who  no  sound  judgments  form,  the  people,  guide 
A  city  well  1     For  time  instead  of  haste 
Affords  the  best  instructions.     But  the  man 
Who  tills  the  ground,  by  poverty  deprest. 
If  to  that  poverty  he  add  the  want 
Of  due  experience,  through  the  manual  toils 
He  is  engaged  in,  to  the  public  good 
Can  ne'er  look  up.     Those  too  of  noble  birth 
Are  much  disgusted  when  the  worthless  hold 
Posts  of  the  highest  rank,  and  he  who  erst 
Was  nothing  with  his  tongue  beguiles  the  crowd. 

The.  This  wittv  herald  to  his  message  adds 


The  flowers  of  eloquence.    But  on  this  strife 

Since  thou  hast  entered,  hear  me  ;  for  'twas  thou 

That  gav'st  the  challenge  to  debate.     No  curse 

Is  greater  to  a  city  than  a  king. 

For  first,  where'er  no  laws  exist  which  bind 

The  whole  community,  and  one  man  rules, 

Upon  his  arbitrary  will  alone 

Depend  the  laws,  and  all  thy  rights  are  lost. 

But  under  written  laws  the  poor  and  rich 

An  equal  justice  find  ;  and  if  reproached, 

They  of  low  station  may  with  equal  scorn 

Answer  the  taunting  arrogance  of  wealth  ; 

And  an  inferior,  if  his  cause  be  just, 

Conquers  the  powerful.     This  too  is  a  mark 

Of  freedom,  where  the  man  who  can  propose 

Some  wholesome  counsel  for  the  public  weal 

Is  by  the  herald  called  upon  to  speak  : 

Then  he  who  with  a  generous  zeal  accepts 

Such  offer  gains  renown,  but  he  who  likes  not 

His  thoughts  to  utter  still  continues  mute. 

How  can  a  city  be  administered 

With  more  equality  .-'    Where'er  the  people 

Are  sovereigns  of  the  land,  a  rising  race 

Of  heroes  gives  them  joy  ;  but  these  a  king 

Esteems  his  foes  ;  the  brave,  with  those  who  bear 

The  character  of  wise,  he  slays,  still  trembling 

For  his  ill-gotten  power.     How  can  that  city 

On  a  firm  basis  stand  where  valiant  youths, 

Like  the  green  sheaf  cut  from  the  vernal  mead, 

Are  in  their  bloom  mown  down  'i    Why  then  acquire 

Large  fortunes  for  our  children,  to  augment 

The  treasures  of  a  king  .''     Or  why  train  up 

Our  virgin  daughters  with  an  anxious  care, 

Merely  to  gratify  the  loose  desires 

Of  an  imperious  monarch,  and  cause  tears 

To  stream  from  their  fond  parents  '(     May  I  end 

My  life  ere  these  indignant  eyes  behold 

The  violation  of  my  daughter's  honour  I 

Thus  far  in  answer  to  thy  speech.     Now  say, 


What  claims  hast  thou  to  make  on  this  domain  ? 
Wert  thou  not  hither  by  thy  city  sent, 
Thou  the  impertinent  harangues  thou  cain'st 
To  utter  shouldst  bewail.     A  messenger 
When  he  hath  spoken  what  his  lords  enjoin 
Ought  to  depart  with  speed.     Next  time  let  Creon 
A  less  loquacious  messenger  despatch 
To  the  Athenian  land. 

Chor.  Alas  !  when  fortune 

Profusely  showers  her  gifts  upon  the  wicked, 
How  insolent  they  are,  as  if  they  deemed 
They  should  for  ever  prosper  ! 

The.  Her.  I  will  now 

Speak  what  I  have  in  charge  ;  your  thoughts  in'.i  cd 
Differ  from  mine  on  these  contested  points, 
But  I  and  all  the  Theban  race  pronounce 
This  interdict :  let  not  Adrastus  enter 
The  land,  or  if  he  be  already  here, 
Ere  yon  bright  chariot  of  the  sun  descends, 
Regardless  of  these  mystic  branches  borne 
By  suppliant  matrons,  drive  him  from  the  realm. 
Nor  furiously  attempt  to  take  away 
The  slain  by  force,  for  in  the  Argive  state 
You  have  no  interest.     If  to  my  advice 
You  yield  due  credence,  by  no  boisterous  waves 
O'ertaken  in  your  course,  you  cross  the  deep 
Shall  sail  your  nation's  pilot,  else  the  storm 
Of  direful  war  shall  burst  on  us  and  you. 
And  your  allies.     Deliberate  well,  nor  give 
A  haughty  answer,  by  my  words  provoked. 
And  of  the  freedom  of  your  city  vain  : 
For  a  reliance  on  superior  might 
Is  most  pernicious,  oft  hath  it  embroiled 
Contending  states,  and  roused  immoderate  ire. 
For  when  whole  cities  by  their  votes  decide 
In  favour  of  a  war,  there's  not  a  man 
Expects  to  perish  ;  all  avert  the  doom 
Which  threats  their  own,  upon  another's  head. 
But  while  they  give  their  suffrages,  if  death 
Were  present  to  their  eyes,  Greece  ne'er  had  owed 


Its  ruin  to  a  frantic  lust  for  war. 

We  all  know  how  to  choose  the  better  part, 

Distinguish  good  from  ill,  and  are  aware 

That  peace,  the  benefactress  of  mankind, 

Is  preferable  to  war;  by  every  Muse 

Held  justly  dear,  and  to  the  fiends  of  hell 

A  foe,  in  population  she  delights, 

And  wealth  abundant.     But,  these  blessings  slighting, 

We  wickedly  embark  in  needless  wars  ; 

A  man  to  servitude  consigns  the  man 

His  arms  subdued,  on  city  the  same  doom 

City  imposes.     But  you  aid  our  foes 

E'en  after  they  are  dead,  and  would  inter 

With  pomp  funereal  those  who  owe  their  fate 

To  their  own  arrogance.     Forsooth,  you  deem 

That  justice  was  infringed,  when  smoked  the  body 

Of  frantic  Capaneus,  by  thunder  smitten, 

Upon  that  ladder,  which  he  at  the  gates 

Erecting,  swore  he  would  lay  waste  our  city. 

Or  with  dread  Jove's  consent  or  in  despite 

Of  the  vindictive  god  :  nor  should  th'  abyss 

Have  snatched  away  that  Augur,  swallowing  up 

His  chariot  in  the  caverns  of  the  earth  : 

Nor  was  it  fitting  that  those  other  chiefs 

Should  at  the  gates  lie  breathless,  with  their  limbs 

Disjointed  by  huge  stones  ;  boast  that  your  wisdom 

Transcends  e'en  that  of  Jove  himself,  or  own 

The  gods  may  punish  sinners.     It  behoves 

Those  who  are  wise  to  love  their  children  first, 

Their  aged  parents  next,  and  native  land, 

Whose  growing  fortunes  they  are  bound  t'  improve, 

And  not  dismember  it.     In  him  who  leads 

A  host,  or  pilot  stationed  at  the  helm. 

Rashness  is  dangerous  :  he  who  by  discretion 

His  conduct  regulates  desists  in  time, 

And  caution  I  esteem  the  truest  valour. 

Adr.  The  vengeance  Jove  inflicted  on  our  crimes 
Should  have  sufficed  :  but  it  behoves  not  thee, 
Thou  most  abandoned  miscreant,  to  insult  us 
With  contumelious  words. 


The.  Adrastus,  peace ! 

Restrain  thy  tongue,  and  in  my  speech  forbear 
To  interrupt  me  :  for  this  herald  brings 
For  thee  no  embassy,  but  comes  to  me, 
And  I  must  answer.     First  will  I  confute 
The  bold  assertion  which  thou  first  didst  make. 
I  own  not  the  authority  of  Creon, 
Nor  can  he  by  superior  might  enforce 
From  Athens  these  submissions  :  to  its  source 
The  river  shall  flow  upward  ere  we  yield 
To  base  compulsion.     I  am  not  the  cause 
Of  this  destructive  war ;  nor  did  I  enter 
The  realms  of  Cadmus  with  those  aim^d  bands, 
But  to  inter  the  bodies  of  the  slain 
(No  violence  to  Thebes,  no  bloody  strife 
Commencing)  is,  I  deem,  an  act  of  justice, 
And  authorized  by  the  established  laws 
Of  every  Grecian  state.     In  what  respect 
Have  I  transgressed?     If  from  those  Argive  chiefs 
Ye  suffered  augiit,  they  perished :  on  your  foes 
With  glory  ye  avenged  yourselves,  and  shame 
To  them  ensued.     No  longer  any  right 
Have  ye  to  punish.     O'er  the  dead  let  dust 
Be  strewn,  and  every  particle  revert 
Back  to  its  ancient  seat  whence  into  life 
It  migrated,  the  soul  ascend  to  Heaven, 
The  body  mix  with  earth  :  for  we  possess 
By  no  sure  tenure  this  decaying  frame. 
But  for  a  dwelling  merely,  through  the  space 
Of  life's  short  day,  to  us  doth  it  belong. 
And  after  our  decease  the  foodful  ground 
Which  nourished  should  receive  it  back  again. 
Think'st  thou  the  wrong  thou  dost,  when  thou  deniest 
Interment  to  the  dead,  confined  to  Argos? 
No  ;  'tis  a  common  insult  to  all  Greece, 
When  of  due  obsequies  bereft  the  slain 
Are  left  without  a  tomb  :  the  brave  would  lose 
Their  courage  should  such  usages  prevail. 
Com'st  thou  to  threaten  me  in  haughty  strain. 
Yet  meanly  fear'st  to  let  the  scattered  mould 


Cover  the  dead  ?    What  mischiefs  can  ensue  ? 

Will  they,  when  buried,  undermine  your  walls. 

Or  in  earth's  hollow  caves  beget  a  race 

Of  children  able  to  avenge  their  wrongs  ? 

Absurdly  hast  thou  lavished  many  words 

In  base  and  groundless  terrors.     O  ye  fools, 

Go  make  yourselves  acquainted  with  the  woes 

To  which  mankind  are  subject.     Human  life 

Is  but  a  conflict  :  some  there  are  whose  bliss 

Approaches  them,  while  that  of  others  waits 

Till  a  long  future  season,  others  taste 

Of  present  joys  :  capricious  Fortune  sports 

With  all  her  anxious  votaries  ;  through  a  hope 

Of  better  times  to  her  the  wretched  pay 

Their  homage  ;  he  who  is  already  blest 

Extols  her  matchless  bounty  to  the  skies, 

And  trembles  lest  the  veering  gale  forsake  him. 

But  we,  who  know  by  what  precarious  tenure 

We  hold  her  gifts,  should  bear  a  trifling  wrong 

With  palience,  and,  if  we  the  narrow  bounds 

Of  justice  overleap,  abstain  from  crimes 

Which  harm  our  country.     If  thou  ask,  what  means 

This  prelude  ?     I  reply  :  To  us  who  wish 

To  see  them  laid  in  earth  with  holy  rites, 

Consign  the  weltering  corses  of  the  slain, 

Else  is  it  clear  what  mischiefs  must  ensue, 

I  will  go  forth,  and  bury  them  by  force. 

For  'mong  the  Greeks  it  never  shall  be  said 

This  ancient  law,  which  from  the  gods  received 

Its  sanction,  though  transmitted  down  to  me 

And  to  the  city  where  Pandion  ruled, 

Was  disregarded. 

Chor.  Courage  !     While  the  light 

Of  justice  is  thy  guide,  thou  shalt  escape 
Th'  invidious  censures  of  a  busy  crowd. 

The.  Her.  May  I  comprise  in  a  few  words  the 
Of  our  debate  ? 

The  Speak  whatsoe'er  thou  wilt : 

For  no  discreet  restraint  thy  tongue  e'er  knew. 


The.  Her.  The  corses  of  those  Argive  youths  from  Thebes 
You  never  shall  remove. 

The,  Now  to  my  answer 

Attend,  if  thou  art  so  disposed. 

The.  Her.  I  will: 

For  in  your  turn  I  ought  to  hear  you  speak. 

The.  On  the  deceased  will  I  bestow  a  grave, 
When  I  have  borne  their  relics  from  the  land 
Washed  by  Asopus'  stream. 

The.  Her.  In  combat  first 

Great  hazards  must  you  brave. 

The.  Unnumbered  toils 

Have  I  ere  now  in  other  wars  endured. 

The.  Her.  Was  there  to  you  transmitted  from  your  sire 
Sufficient  strength  to  cope  with  every  foe  ? 

The.  With  every  villain  :  for  on  virtuous  deeds 
No  punishment  would  I  inflict. 

The.  Her  Both  you 

And  Athens  have  been  wont  in  various  matters 
To  interfere. 

The.  To  many  a  bold  emprise 

She  owes  the  prosperous  fortunes  she  enjoys. 

The.  Her.  Come  on,  thnt  soon  as  you  attempt  to  enter 
Our  gates  the  Theban  lance  may  lay  you  low. 

The.  Can  any  valiant  champion  from  the  teeth 
Of  a  slain  dragon  spring  ? 

The.  Her.  This  to  your  cost 

Shall  you  experience,  though  you  still  retain 
The  rashness  which  untutored  youth  inspires. 

The.  By  thy  presumptuous  language  thou  my  soul 
To  anger  canst  not  rouse :  but  from  this  land 
Depart,  and  carry  back  those  empty  words 
With  which  thou  liither  cam'st :  for  we  in  vain 
Have  held  this  conference,  \^Exit  Theban  Herald. 

Now  must  we  collect 
Our  numerous  infantry  in  arms  arrayed, 
With  all  who  mount  the  chariot,  and  the  steed 
Caparisoned,  his  mouth  distilling  foam, 
Urge  to  the  Theban  realm ;  for  I  will  march 


Up  to  the  sevenfold  gates  by  Cadmus  reared 

This  arm  sustaining  a  protended  spear, 

And  be  myself  the  herald.     But  stay  here, 

Adrastus,  I  command  thee  ;  nor  with  mine 

Blend  thy  disastrous  fortunes  :  for  the  host 

I  under  happier  auspices  will  lead 

To  the  embattled  field,  renowned  in  war, 

And  furnished  with  the  spear  to  which  I  owe 

My  glories.     I  need  only  one  thing  more, 

Help  from  the  gods,  who  are  the  friends  of  justice : 

For  where  all  these  advantages  concur 

They  to  our  better  cause  ensure  success. 

But  valour's  of  no  service  to  mankind 

Unless  propitious  Jove  his  influence  lend. 

[£x/i  Theseus. 

Adr.  Unhappy  mothers  of  those  hapless  chiefs, 
How  doth  pale  fear  disturb  this  anxious  breast  ! 

Chor.  What  new  alarm  is  this  thou  giv'st  ? 

Adr.  The  host 

Of  Pallas  our  great  contest  will  decide. 

Chor.  By  force  of  arms,  or  conference,  dost  thou  mean  ? 

Adr.  'Twere  better  thus  ;  but  slaughter,  the  delight 
Of  Mars,  and  battle,  through  the  Theban  streets, 
With  many  a  beaten  bosom  shall  resound. 

Chor.  Wretch  that  I  am !    What  cause  shall  I  assign 
For  such  calamities .'' 

Adr.  But  some  reverse 

Of  fortune  may  again  lay  low  the  man 
Who,  swollen  with  gay  prosperity,  exults ; 
This  gives  me  confidence. 

Chor.  Th'  immortal  gods 

Thou  represent'st  as  if  those  gods  were  just. 

Adr.  For  who  but  they  o'er  each  event  preside .-' 

Chor.  Heaven's  partial  dispensations  to  mankind 
I  oft  contemplate. 

Adr.  Thou  thy  better  judgment 

To  thy  past  fears  dost  sacrifice.  Revenge 
Calls  forth  revenge,  and  slaughter  is  repaid 
By  slaughter  ;  for  the  gods  into  the  souls 


Of  evil  men  pernicious  thoughts  infuse, 
And  all  things  to  their  destined  period  guide. 


Chor.  O  could  I  reach  yon  field  with  turrets  crowned 

And  leave  thy  spring  Callichore  behind. 
Adr.     Heaven  give  thee  pinions  to  outstrip  the  wind  ! 
Chor.  Waft  me  to  Thebes  for  its  two  streams  renowned. 
Adr,     There  might'st  thou  view  the  spirits  of  the  slain 

Whose  corses  welter  on  the  hostile  plain. 

Still  dubious  are  the  dread  awards  of  fate. 

But  the  undaunted  king  of  this  domain, 
In  yon  embattled  field  what  dangers  may  await. 

Chor.  On  you,  ye  pitying  gods,  again  I  call, 

In  you  my  trust  I  place,  your  might  revere, 
And  with  this  hope  dispel  each  anxious  fear. 
O  Jove,  whom  love's  soft  bandage  did  enthral, 
When  beauteous  lo  met  thy  fond  embrace, 
Erst  to  a  heifer  changed,  from  whom  we  trace 
Our  origin,  make  Argos  still  thy  care. 
Thy  image  rescuing  from  its  loathed  disgrace, 
To  the  funereal  pyre  these  heroes  will  we  bear 

Messenger,  Adrastus,  Chorus. 

Mes.  With  many  acceptable  tidings  fraught 
I  come,  ye  dames,  and  am  myself  just  'scaped 
(For  I  wag  taken  prisoner  in  that  battle, 
When  the  seven  squadrons,  led  by  the  deceased. 
Upon  the  banks  of  Dirce's  current  fought) ; 
It  is  my  joyful  errand  to  relate 
The  conquest  Theseus  gained  :  but  your  fatigue 
Of  asking  tedious  questions  will  I  spare  ; 
For  to  that  Capaneus,  th'  ill-fated  chief 
Whom  Jove  with  flaming  thunderbolts  transpierced, 
Was  1  a  servant. 


Chor.  O  my  friend,  you  bring 

A  favourable  account  of  your  return, 
And  Theseus'  mighty  deeds  :  but  if  the  host 
Of  generous  Athens  too  be  safe,  most  welcome 
Will  be  the  whole  of  what  you  now  relate. 

Mes.  'Tis  safe  ;  and  what  Adrastus  strove  t'  effect, 
When  from  the  stream  of  Inachus  he  led 
His  forces,  and  against  the  Theban  towers 
Waged  war,  is  now  accomplished. 

Chor.  But  relate 

How  ^geus'  son  with  his  intrepid  comrades 
Jove's  trophies  reared,  for  you  th'  engagement  saw, 
And  us  who  were  not  there  can  entertain. 

Mes.  In  a  right  line  the  solar  beams  began 
To  strike  the  earth  ;  upon  a  tower  I  stood 
Commanding  a  wide  prospect  o'er  the  field. 
Above  the  gate  Electra.     Thence  I  marked 
The  warriors  of  three  tribes  to  the  assault 
Advancing  in  three  several  bands,  arrayed 
In  ponderous  armour,  to  Ismenos'  stream 
The  first  division,  I  am  told,  its  ranks 
Extended  ;  the  illustrious  son  of  .^Egeus, 
Their  monarch,  was  among  them  ;  round  their  chief 
The  natives  of  Cecropia's  ancient  realm 
Were  stationed  ;  the  Paralians,  armed  with  spears, 
Close  to  the  fount  of  Mars  ;  on  either  flank 
Of  battle  stood  the  cavalry  disposed 
In  equal  numbers,  and  the  brazen  cars 
Screened  by  Amphion's  venerable  tomb. 
Meanwhile  the  Theban  forces  were  drawn  forth 
Without  the  bulwarks,  placing  in  their  rear 
The  bodies  which  they  fought  for  ;  fiery  steed 
To  steed ;  to  chariot,  chariot  stood  opposed. 
But  Theseus'  herald,  in  a  voice  so  loud 
That  all  might  hear,  cried  out,  "  Be  mute,  ye  people ; 
Attend  in  strictest  silence,  O  ye  troops 
Who  spring  from  Cadmus  !     We  are  come  to  claim 
The  bodies  of  the  slain,  which  'tis  our  wish 
To  bury,  in  compliance  with  the  laws 


Established  through  all  Greece  :  we  for  their  deaths 
Require  not  an  atonement."     To  these  words 
No  answer  by  his  herald  Creon  gave, 
Firm  under  arms  the  silent  warrior  stood. 
They  who  the  reins  of  adverse  chariots  held 
Began  the  battle,  hurrying  through  the  ranks 
With  glowing  wheels,  nor  shunned  the  lifted  spear ; 
Some  fought  with   swords,  while  others  urged  th  ir 

Again  into  the  fray,  encountering  those 
Who  had  repelled  them.     But  when  Phorbas,  leader 
Of  the  Athenian  cavalry,  observed 
The  chariots  of  the  foe  in  throngs  advance, 
He  and  the  chieftains  of  the  Theban  horse 
In  the  encounter  mingled,  and  by  turns 
Prevailed  and  were  discomfited.     I  speak  not 
From  fame  alone,  but  what  myself  beheld. 
For  I  was  present  where  the  chariots  fought, 
And  the  brave  chiefs  who  in  those  chariots  rode. 
In  an  assemblage  of  so  many  horrors, 
I  know  not  which  to  mention  first ;  how  thick 
The  clouds  of  dust  which  blackened  all  the  sky 
Or  those  who,  tangled  in  the  stubborn  reins, 
Were  dragged  at  random  o'er  the  field,  and  bathed 
In  their  own  gore,  their  chariots  overthrown 
Or  broken  ;  others  headlong  from  their  seat 
Were  violently  dashed  upon  the  ground, 
And  breathed  their  last  amid  their  splintered  wheels. 
When  Creon  saw  his  cavalry  prevail. 
Hastily  snatching  up  a  pointed  spear, 
Onward  he  marched  impetuous,  lest  his  troops 
Should  lose  their  courage  ;  nor  through  abject  fear 
Did  Theseus'  bands  recoil :  without  delay 
On  to  the  combat,  sheathed  in  glittering  .irms, 
The  dauntless  chief  advanced,  and  now  began 
In  the  main  body  of  each  ndverse  host 
A  universal  conflict ;  with  the  slain 
The  slayer  mingled  lay  ;  while  clamorous  shouts 
Were  heard  from  those  that  to  their  comrades  cried  : 


"  Strike  !     With  your  spears  oppose  Erectheus'  race." 

A  legion  sprung  from  the  slain  dragon's  teeth 

With  courage  fought,  and  pressed  on  our  left  wing 

So  hard  that  it  gave  way,  while  by  our  right 

Discomfited  the  Theban  squadrons  fled. 

Thus  in  an  equal  balance  long  remained 

The  fate  of  war,  but  here  again  our  chief 

Deserved  applause,  for  he  not  only  gained 

All  that  advantage  his  victorious  troops 

Could  give  him,  but  proceeded  to  that  wing 

Which  had  been  worsted  :  with  so  loud  a  shout 

That  earth  resounded,  "  Valiant  youths,"  he  cried, 

"  If  ye  repel  not  those  protended  spears 

Of  the  fierce  dragon's  brood,  Minerva's  city 

Is  utterly  destroyed."     These  words  infused 

New  confidence  in  all  th'  Athenian  host. 

Then,  snatching  up  the  ponderous  club  he  won 

Near  Epidaurus,  with  his  utmost  force 

He  swang  that  formidable  weapon  round, 

Severing,  like  tender  poppies  from  the  stalks, 

At  the  same  stroke,  their  necks  and  helmed  heads, 

Yet  scarcely  could  he  put  to  flight  the  troops 

Of  Argos.     With  a  shout,  then  vaulting  high, 

I  clapped  my  hands,  while  to  the  gates  they  ran. 

Through  every  street  re-echoed  mingled  shrieks 

Of  young  and  old,  who  by  their  fears  impelled 

Crowded  the  temples.     But  when  he  with  ease 

The  fortress  might  have  entered,  Theseus  checked 

The  ardour  of  his  host,  and  said  he  came 

Not  to  destroy  the  city,  but  redeem 

The  bodies  of  those  slaughtered  chiefs.     A  man 

Like  this  should  be  selected  for  the  leader 

Of  armies,  who  'midst  dangers  perseveres 

Undaunted,  and  abhors  the  madding  pride 

Of  those  who,  flushed  with  tnumph,  while  they  seek 

To  mount  the  giddy  ladder's  topmost  round. 

Forfeit  that  bliss  they  else  might  have  enjoyed. 

Chor.  Now  I  have  seen  this  unexpected  day, 
I  deem  that  there  are  gods,  and  feel  my  woes 


Alleviated  since  these  audacious  miscreants 

Have  suffered  their  deserts. 

-   ADR.  Why  do  they  speak 

Of  wretched  man  as  wise  ?    On  thee,  O  Jove, 

Our  all  depends,  and  whatsoe'er  thou  will'st 

We  execute.     The  power  of  Argos  seemed 

Too  great  to  be  resisted  ;  we  relied 

On  our  own  numbers  and  superior  might. 

Hence,  when  Eteocles  began  to  treat 

Of  peace,  though  he  demanded  moderate  terms, 

Disdaining  to  accept  it,  we  rushed  headlong 

Into  perdition  :  while  the  foolish  race 

Of  Cadmus,  like  some  beggar  who  obtains 

Immense  possessions  suddenly,  grew  proud, 

And  pride  was  the  forerunner  of  their  ruin. 

Mortals,  devoid  of  sense,  who  strain  too  hard 

Your  feeble  bow,  and  after  ye  have  suffered 

Unnumbered  evils  justly,  to  the  voice 

Of  friends  still  deaf,  are  guided  by  events  ; 

And  cities,  who  by  treaty  might  avert 

Impending  mischief,  choose  to  make  the  sword, 

Rather  than  reason,  umpire  of  your  strife. 

But  whither  do  these  vain  reflections  tend .'' 

What  I  now  wish  to  learn  is,  by  what  means 

Thou  didst  escape  :  I  into  other  matters 

Will  then  make  full  inquiry. 

Mes.  While  the  tumult 

Of  battle  in  the  city  still  prevailed, 
I  through  that  gate  came  forth  by  which  the  troops 
Had  entered. 

Adr.  But  did  ye  bear  off  the  bodies 

Of  those  slain  chiefs  for  whom  the  war  arose  ? 

Mes.  Who  o'er  seven  noble  houses  did  preside. 

Adr.  What's  this  thou  saidst  1    But  where  are  all  the 
Of  the  deceased,  an  undistinguished  crowd .'' 

Mes.  Lodged  in  a  tomb  amid^^Cithasron's  vale. 

ADR.  Beyond  or  on  this  side  the  mount  ?    And  who 
Performed  this  mournful  duty  ? 


Mes.  Theseus'  self : 

The  rock  Eleutheris  o'ershades  their  grave. 

Adr.  But  as  for  those  he  hath  not  yet  interred, 
Where  did  he  leave  their  corses  ? 

Mes.  Near  at  hand. 

For  every  duty  that  affection  prompts 
Is  placed  within  our  reach. 

Adr.  Did  slaves  remove 

The  dead  with  their  ignoble  hands  ? 

Mes.  No  slave 

Performed  that  office  :  if  you  had  been  present 
You  would  have  cried,  "  What  love  doth  Theseus  bear 
To  our  slain  friends  !  "    He  laved  the  grisly  wounds 
Of  these  unhappy  youths,  the  couch  prepared, 
And  o'er  their  bodies  threw  the  decent  veil. 

Adr.  Most  heavy  burden  !  too  unseemly  task  ! 

Mes.  What  shame  to  feeble  mortals  can  arise 
From  those  calamities  which  none  escape  t 

Adr.  Ah !  would  to  Heaven  that  I  with  them  had  died  ! 

Mes.  In  vain  you  weep,  and  cause  full  many  a  tear 
To  stream  from  these  your  followers. 

Adr.  Here  I  stand 

As  the  chief  mourner,  though  by  them,  alas  ! 
Have  I  been  taught  to  grieve.     Of  that  no  more. 
With  hands  uplifted  I  advance  to  meet 
The  dead,  and,  pouring  forth  a  votive  dirge 
To  socthe  hell's  grisly  potentate,  once  more 
Will  I  accost  those  friends,  of  whom  deprived 
I  wail  my  solitude.     This  only  loss 
Man  never  can  retrieve,  the  fleeting  breath 
Of  life  ;  but  the  possessions  we  impair 
By  various  means  may  be  again  acquired. 

{Exit  Messenger. 



Dashed  are  our  jo}'^  with  mingled  pains  ; 
While  Athens  and  its  leaders  claim 


Fresh  wreaths  of  laurel  with  augmented  fame ; 
Doomed  to  behold  the  pale  remains 
Of  my  loved  children,  bitter,  pleasing  sight, 
after  grief  shall  feel  an  unforeseen  delight. 

O  that  old  Time's  paternal  care 

Had  kept  me  from  the  nuptial  yoke. 
What  need  had  I  of  sons  ?     This  grievous  stroke 

Could  never  then  have  been  my  share  : 

But  now  I  see  perpetual  cause  to  mourn  ; 
My  children,  from  these  arms  for  ever  are  ye  torn. 

But  lo  !  the  corses  of  those  breathless  youths. 
Ate  borne  in  pomp  funereal.     Would  to  Heaven 
I  with  my  sons  might  perish.,  and  descend 
The  shades  of  Pluto  ! 

Adr.  Matrons,  o'er  the  dead, 

Fale  tenants  of  the  realms  beneath,  now  vent 
Your  loudest  groans,  and  to  my  groans  reply. 

Chor.  O  children,  whom  in  bitterness  of  soul, 
With  a  maternal  fondness,  we  accost ; 
To  thee,  my  breathless  son,  to  thee  I  speak. 

Adr.  Ah  me  !  my  woes  ! 

Chor.  We  have  endured,  alas  ! 

Afflictions  the  most  grievous. 

Adr.  O  ye  dames 

Of  my  loved  Argos,  view  ye  not  my  fate .'' 

Chor.  Me,  miserable  and  childless  they  behold. 

Adr.  Bring  to  their  hapless  friend  each  bloody  corse 
Of  those  famed  chiefs,  dishonourably  slain, 
And  by  the  hands  of  cowards  :  when  they  fell. 
The  battle  ended. 

Chor.  O  let  me  embrace 

My  dearest  sons,  and  in  these  arms  sustain  ! 

Adr.  Thou  from  these  hands  receiv'st  them  :   such  a 
Of  anguish  is  too  grievous  to  be  borne. 

Chor.  By  their  fond  mothers,  you  forget  to  add. 
Wretch  that  I  am ! 

Adr.  Ah,  listen  to  my  voice. 


Chor.  Both  to  yourself  and  us  these  plaints  belong. 

Adr.  Would  to  the  gods  that  the  victorious  troops 
Of  Thebes  had  slain  and  laid  me  low  in  dust ! 

Chor.  O  that  in  wedlock  I  had  ne'er  been  joined 
To  any  lord ! 

Adr.  Ye  miserable  mothers 

Of  those  brave  youths,  who  for  their  country  died. 
An  ocean  of  calamity  behold. 

Chor.  We,  hopeless  mourners,  with  our  nails  have  torn 
These  bleeding  visages,  and  on  our  heads 
Strewn  ashes. 

Adr.  Ah  I  ah  me  !    Thou  opening  ground 

Swallow  me  up.     O  scatter  me,  ye  storms  : 
And  may  Jove's  lightning  on  this  head  descend  ! 

Chor.  You  witnessed  in  an  evil  hour  the  nuptials 
Of  your  two  daughters,  in  an  evil  hour 
Apollo's  mystic  oracles  obeyed. 
The  wife  whom  you  have  taken  to  your  arms 
Is  that  destructive  fiend  who  left  the  house 
Of  CEdipus,  and  chose  with  you  to  dwell. 

Theseus,  Adrastus,  Chorus. 

The,  The  questions  I  designed  to  have  proposed 
To  you,  ye  noble  matrons,  when  ye  uttered 
Your  loud  complaints  amidst  th'  assembled  host, 
I  will  omit,  and  mean  to  search  no  farther 
Into  the  moving  history  of  your  woes. 
But  now  of  thee,  Adrastus,  I  inquire, 
Whence  sprung  these  chiefs  whose  prowess  did  transcend 
That  of  all  other  mortals  ?     Thou  art  wise, 
And  these  transactions,  which  full  well  thou  know'st, 
Canst  to  our  youthful  citizens  unfold. 
For,  of  their  bold  achievements,  which  exceed 
The  power  of  language  to  express,  myself 
Have  been  a  witness,  when  they  strove  to  storm 
The  Theban  walls.     But  lest  I  should  provoke 
Thy  laughter,  this  one  question  will  I  spare  ; 
With  what  brave  champion  in  th'  embattled  field 
Each  fought,  and  from  the  weapon  of  what  foe 
Received  the  deadly  wound  :  for  these  vain  tales 


But  serve  an  equal  folly  to  display 

In  those  who  either  hear  them,  or  relate, 

Should  he  who  mingles  in  the  thickest  fray, 

From  either  army,  while  unnumbered  spears 

Before  his  eyes  are  thrown,  distinctly  strive 

To  ascertain  what  dauntless  warrior  launched 

Willi  surest  aim  the  missile  death.    These  questions 

J  cannot  ask,  nor  credit  those  who  dare 

To  make  such  rash  assertions.     For  the  man 

Who  to  his  foes  in  combat  stands  opposed 

Can  scarce  discern  enough  to  act  the  part 

Which  his  own  duty  calls  for. 

Adr.  Now  attend, 

For  no  unwelcome  task  have  you  imposed 
On  me,  of  praising  those  departed  friends, 
Of  whom  with  truth  and  justice  I  would  speak. 
Do  you  behold  yon  hero's  graceful  form, 
Through  whnch  the  bolt  of  Jove  hath  forced  its  way  t 
This  youth  is  Capaneus,  who,  though  the  fortune 
Which  he  possessed  was  ample,  ne'er  grew  vain 
Through  wealth,  nor  of  himself  more  highly  deemed 
Than  if  he  had  been  poor,  but  shunned  the  man 
Who  proudly  glories  in  a  sumptuous  board. 
And  treats  a  frugal  competence  with  scorn  ; 
For  he  maintained  that  life's  chief  good  consists  not 
In  the  voracious  glutton's  full  repast, 
But  that  a  moderate  portion  will  suffice. 
In  his  attachments  still  was  he  sincere. 
And  zealous  for  the  good  of  those  he  loved. 
Whether  at  hand  or  absent  still  the  same  ; 
Small  is  the  number  of  such  friends  as  these ; 
His  manners  were  not  counterfeit,  his  lips 
Distilled  sweet  courtesy,  and  left  not  aught 
That  he  had  promised,  either  to  the  slave, 
Or  citizen  of  Argos,  unperformed. 
Eteoclus  I  next  proceed  to  name, 
For  every  virtuous  practice  much  renowned. 
Small  were  the  fortunes  of  this  noble  youth, 
But  in  the  Argive  region  he  enjoyed 


Abundant  honours  :  though  his  wealthier  friends 

Oft  sought  to  have  presented  him  with  gold, 

His  doors  were  closed  against  that  specious  bane, 

Lest  he  mi^ht  seem  to  act  a  servile  part, 

By  riches  made  a  bondsman  :  he  abhorred 

The  guilt  of  individuals,  not  the  land 

Which  nourished  them  :  to  cities  no  reproach 

Is  due  because  their  rulers  are  corrupt. 

Such  also  was  Hippomedon,  the  third 

Of  these  illustrious  chiefs  ;  while  yet  a  boy, 

To  the  delights  the  tuneful  Muses  yield, 

A  life  of  abject  softness,  he  disdained 

To  turn  aside  :  a  tenant  of  the  fields, 

His  nature  he  to  the  severest  toils 

Inuring,  took  delight  in  manly  deeds, 

With  fiery  coursers  issuing  to  the  chase, 

Or  twanged  with  nervous  hands  the  sounding  bow. 

And  showed  a  generous  eagerness  to  make 

His  vigour  useful  to  his  native  land. 

There  lies  the  huntress  Atalanta's  son, 

Parthenopseus,  by  a  beauteous  form 

Distinguished  :  in  Arcadia  was  he  bom, 

But,  journeying  thence  to  Inachus'  stream, 

In  Argos  nurtured ;  having  there  received 

His  education,  first,  as  is  the  duty 

Of  strangers  in  the  country  where  they  dwell. 

He  never  made  a  foe,  nor  to  the  state 

Became  obnoxious,  waged  no  strife  of  words 

(Whence  citizens  and  foreigners  offend), 

But,  stationed  in  the  van  of  battle,  fought 

To  guard  the  land  as  if  he  had  been  bom 

An  Argive,  and  whene'er  the  city  prospered 

Rejoiced,  but  was  with  deepest  anguish  stung 

If  a  reverse  of  Tortune  it  endured : 

Though  many  lovers,  many  blooming  nymphs 

To  him  their  hearts  devoted,  he  maintained 

A  blameless  conduct.     The  great  praises  due 

To  Tydeus  I  concisely  will  express ; 

Though  rude  of  speech,  yet  terrible  in  arms, 


Devising  various  stratagems,  surpassed 
In  prudence  by  his  brother  Meleager, 
By  warlike  arts  he  gained  an  equal  name, 
Finding  sweet  music  in  the  crash  of  shields  : 
Nature  endued  him  with  the  strongest  thirst 
For  glory  and  for  riches  ;  but  his  soul 
In  actions,  not  in  words,  its  force  displayed. 
From  this  account,  O  Theseus,  wonder  not 
Such  generous  youths  before  the  Theban  towers 
Feared  not  to  meet  an  honourable  death.   , 
For  education  is  the  source  whence  springs 
Ingenuous  shame,  and  every  man  whose  habits 
Have  erst  been  virtuous,  not  without  a  blush. 
Becomes  a  dastard  :  courage  may  be  taught ; 
Just  as  a  tender  infant  learns  to  speak 
And  listen  to  the  words  he  comprehends  not ; 
But  he  such  wholesome  lessons  treasures  up 
Till  he  is  old.     From  this  example  train 
Your  progeny  in  honour's  arduous  paths. 

Chor.  I  educated  thee,  my  hapless  son, 
Thee  in  this  womb  sustained,  and  childbirth  pangs 
For  thee  endured ;  but  now  hath  Pluto  seized 
The  fruit  of  all  my  toils,  and  I,  who  bore 
An  offspring,  am  abandoned  to  distress, 
Without  a  prop  to  stay  my  sinking  age. 

Adr.  The  gods  themselves  in  louder  strains  extol 
Oicleus'  illustrious  son,  whom  yet  alive 
They  with  his  rapid  coursers  snatched  away 
And  bore  into  the  caverns  of  the  earth. 

The.  Nor  shall  I  utter  falsehood  while  my  tongue 
Recounts  the  praise  of  Polynices,  son 
Of  (Edipus  ;  for  as  his  guest  the  chief 
Received  me,  ere,  a  voluntary  exile. 
Abandoning  his  native  city  reare 
By  Cadmus,  to  the  Argive  realm  he  went. 
But  know'st  thou  how  I  wish  thou  shouldst  dispose 
Of  their  remains  ? 

Adr.  All  that  I  know  is  this, 

Whatever  you  direct  shall  be  obeyed. 


The.  As  for  that  Capaneus,  who  by  the  name 
Launched  from  Jove's  hand  was  smitten — 

Adr.  Would  you  bum 

His  corse  apart  as  sacred  ? 

The.  Even  so. 

But  all  the  rest  on  one  funereal  pyre. 

At)R.  Where  mean  you  to  erect  his  separate  tomb .'' 

The.  I  near  these  hapless  youths  have  fixed  the  spot 
For  his  interment. 

Adr.  To  your  menial  train 

Must  this  unwelcome  office  be  consigned. 
•  The.  But  to  those  other  warriors  will  I  pay 
Due  honours.     Now  advance,  and  hither  bring 
Their  corses. 

Adr.  To  your  children,  wretched  matrons, 

Draw  near. 

The.         Adrastus,  sure  thou  hast  proposed 
What  cannot  be  expedient. 

Adr.  Why  restrain 

The  mothers  from  their  breathless  sons'  embrace  .'' 

The.  Should  they  behold  their  children  thus  deformed, 
Tiiey  would  expire  with  grief.     The  face  we  loved, 
Soon  as  pale  death  invades  its  bloom,  becomes 
A  loathsome  object.     Why  wouldst  thou  increase 
Their  sorrows  ? 

Adr.  V  ou  convince  me.     Ye  must  wait 

With  patience  ;  for  expedient  are  the  counsels 
Which  Theseus  gives.     But  when  we  have  consumed 
In  blazing  pyres  their  corses,  ye  their  bones 
Must  take  away.     Why  forge  the  brazen  spear, 
Unhappy  mortals,  why  retaliate  slaughter 
With  slaughter  i     O  desist  ;  no  more  engrossed 
By  fruitless  labours,  m  your  cities  dwell, 
Peaceful  yourselves,  and  through  the  nations  round 
A  general  peace  diffusing.     For  the  term 
Of  human  life  is  short,  and  should  be  passed 
With  every  comfort,  not  in  anxious  toils. 

[Exeunt  Theseus  and  Adrastus. 






No  more  a  mother's  happy  name 
Shall  crown  my  fortunes  or  exalt  my  fame, 
'Midst  Argive  matrons  blest  with  generous  heirs. 

Of  all  the  parent's  hopes  bereft, 
By  Dian,  patroness  of  childbirth  left, 

Ordained  to  lead  a  life  of  cares, 

To  wandering  solitude  consigned, 
I  like  a  cloud  am  driven  before  the  howling  wind. 


We,  seven  unhappy  dames,  deplore 
The  seven  brave  sons  we  erst  exulting  bore, 
Illustrious  champions  who  for  Argos  bled  : 

Forlorn  and  childless,  drenched  in  tears, 
Downward  I  hasten  to  the  vale  of  years. 

But  am  not  numbered  with  the  dead 

Or  living  :  a  peculiar  state 
Is  mine,  on  me  attends  an  unexampled  fate. 

For  me  nought  now  remains  except  to  weep : 

In  my  son's  house  are  left  behind 
Some  tokens  ;  well  I  know  those  tresses  shorn, 

Which  no  wreath  shall  ever  bind. 

No  auspicious  songs  adorn, 

And  golden-haired  Apollo  scorn  ; 

With  horror  from  a  broken  sleep 

Roused  by  grief  at  early  mom 
My  crimson  vest  in  gushing  tears  I  steep. 

But  I  the  pyre  of  Capaneus  behold 

Already  blazing,  near  his  sacred  tomb 

Heaped  high ;  and  placed  without  the  fane,  those  gifts 

Which  Theseus'  self  appropriates  to  the  dead  : 

Evadne  too,  the  consort  of  that  chief. 

Who  by  the  thunderbolts  of  Jove  was  slain, 


Daughter  of  noble  Iphis,  is  at  hand. 
Why  doth  she  stand  upon  the  topmost  ridge 
Of  yon  aerial  rock,  which  overlooks 
This  dome,  as  if  she  hither  bent  her  way  ? 

EvADNE,  Chorus, 



Eva,  What  cheering  oeams  of  radiant  light 
Hyperion  darted  from  his  car, 
And  how  did  Cynthia's  lamp  shine  bright, 
While  in  the  skies  each  glittering  star 
Rode  swiftly  through  the  drear  abodes  of  night, 
When  Argive  youths  a  festive  throng 
T'  accompany  the  nuptial  song 
For  Capaneus  and  me  awaked  the  lyre.'' 

Now  frantic  hither  am  I  borne 
R  esolved  to  share  my  lord's  funereal  pyre, 
With  him  to  enter  the  same  tomb, 
End  with  him  this  life  forlorn, 
In  Pluto's  realms,  the  Stygian  gloom. 
If  Heaven  assent,  the  most  delightful  death 
Is  when  with  those  we  love  we  mix  our  parting  breath. 

Chor.  Near  to  its  mouth  you  stand  and  overlook 
The  blazing  pyre,  Jove's  treasure,  there  is  lodged 
Your  husband  whom  his  thunderbolts  transpierced. 

Eva.  Life's  utmost  goal  I  now  behold. 

For  I  have  finished  my  career : 

With  steadfast  purpose  uncontrolled 

My  steps  doth  fortune  hither  steer. 
In  the  pursuit  of  honest  fame  grown  bold, 

Am  I  determined  from  this  steep 

Into  the  flames  beneath  to  leap, 
And  mine  with  my  dear  husband's  ashes  blend  ; 

I  to  the  couch  of  Proserpine, 
With  him  in  death  united,  will  descend. 

Thee  in  the  grave  I'll  ne'er  betray  : 

I  2 


Life  and  wedlock  I  resign 

May  some  happier  spousal  day 
At  Argos  for  Evadne's  race  remain, 
And  every  wedded  pair  such  constant  loves  maintain. 

Chor.  But,  lo,  'tis  he  !     I  view  your  aged  sire, 
The  venerable  Iphis,  who  approaches 
As  a  fresh  witness  of  those  strange  designs 
Which  yet  he  knows  not,  and  will  grieve  to  hear. 

Iphis,  Chorus,  Evadne. 

I  PH.  O  most  unhappy  !     Hither  am  I  come, 
A  miserable  old  man,  with  twofold  griefs 
By  Heaven  afflicted  ;  to  his  native  land, 
The  body  of  Eteoclus,  my  son. 
Slain  by  a  Theban  javelin,  to  convey, 
And  seek  my  daughter,  with  impetuous  step 
Who  rushed  from  her  apartment ;  in  the  bond 
Of  wedlock  she  to  Capaneus  was  joined, 
And  wishes  to  accompany  in  death 
Her  husband  ;  for  a  time  she  in  my  house 
Was  guarded,  but  since  I  no  longer  watched  her, 
'Midst  the  confusion  of  our  present  ills 
She  'scaped ;  but  we  have  reason  to  suspect 
That  she  is  here  ;  inform  us,  if  ye  know. 

Eva.  Why  do  you  question  them  ?     Here  on  this  rock 
I,  O  my  father,  o'er  the  blazing  pyre 
Of  Capaneus  stand,  hovering  like  a  bird. 

Iph.  What  gale  hnth  borne  ihee  hither  1   Or  what  means 
That  robe,  my  daughter  ?    Wherefore,  from  thy  home 
,  Departing,  to  this  region  didst  thou  fly  .'' 

Eva.  'Twould  but  exasperate  you  to  be  informed 
Of  my  intentions  :  therefore,  O  my  sire, 
Am  I  unwilling  you  should  hear. 

Iph.  Wimt  schemes 

Are  these  which  thy  own  father  may  not  know  .'' 

Eva.  In  you  I  should  not  find  an  equal  judge 
Of  my  intentions. 

Iph.  But  on  what  account 

Thy  person  with  that  habit  hast  thou  graced  ?  I 


Eva.  a  splendid  action,  O  my  sire,  the  robe 
I  wear  denotes. 

I  PH.  Ill-suited  is  a  garb 

So  costly  to  the  matron  who  bewails 
Her  husband's  death . 

Eva.  For  an  unheard-of  purpose 

In  gay  habiliments  am  I  attired. 

Iph.    Why  stand's!  thou  near  the  grave  and  blazing 
pyre  ? 

Eva.  Hither  I  come  to  gain  a  mighty  conquest. 

Iph.  O'er  whom  wouldst  thou  prevail .'     I  wish  to  know. 

Eva.  O'er  every  woman  whom  the  sun  beholds. 

Iph.  By  Pallas  in  the  labours  of  the  loom 
Instructed,  or  with  a  judicious  soul, 
That  best  of  gifts  endued  ? 

Eva.  With  dauntless  courage : 

For  in  the  grave  I  with  my  breathless  lord 
Shall  be  united. 

Iph.  What  is  it  thou  say'st .'' 

Or  with  what  views  a  riddle  thus  absurd 
Hast  thou  propounded  "i 

Eva.  Hence  into  the  pyre 

Of  Capaneus  will  I  leap  down. 

Iph.  My  daughter. 

Before  the  multitude  forbear  to  hold 
This  language. 

Eva.  There  is  nothing  I  have  said 

But  what  I  wish  that  every  Argive  knew. 

Iph.  Yet  will  I  not  consent  thou  shouldst  fulfil 
Thy  desperate  purpose. 

Eva  ^as  she  is  throwing  herself  from  the  Rock.'\ 
It  is  aU  the  same  : 
Nor  can  you  now  by  stretching  forth  your  hand 
Stop  my  career.     Already  have  I  taken 
The  fatal  leap,  and  hence  descend,  with  joy 
Though  not  indeed  to  you,  yet  to  myself, 
And  to  my  lord,  with  whose  remains  I  blaze. 

Chor.  Thou  hast  committed  an  atrocious  deed, 
O  woman. 

262     •  EURIPIDES. 

I  PH.  Wretched  me !  I  am  undone, 

Ye  dames  of  Argos. 

Chor.  Horrid  are  these  ills 

Which  thou  endur'st,  the  deed  thine  eyes  behold 
Is  the  most  daring. 

I  PH.  No  man  can  ye  find 

Than  me  more  miserable. 

Chor.  O  wretch  !  A  portion 

Of  CEdipus'  fortunes  was  reserved 
For  thee  in  thy  old  age  :  thou  too,  my  city, 
Art  visited  by  the  severest  woes. 

I  PH.  Why  was  this  privilege,  alas  !  denied 
To  mortals,  twice  to  flourish  in  the  bloom 
Of  youth,  and  for  a  second  time  grow  old  1 
For  in  our  houses,  we,  if  aught  is  found 
To  have  been  ill  contrived,  amend  the  fault 
Which  our  maturer  judgment  hath  descried  ; 
While  each  important  error  in  our  life 
Admits  of  no  reform  :  but  if  with  youth 
And  ripe  old  age  we  twice  had  been  indulged, 
Each  devious  step  that  marked  our  first  career 
We  in  our  second  might  set  right.     For  children, 
Seeing  that  others  had  them,  much  I  wished, 
And  pined  away  with  vehement  desire  : 
But  if  I  had  already  felt  these  pangs. 
And  from  my  own  experience  learnt  how  great 
Is  the  calamity  to  a  fond  father 
To  be  bereft  of  all  his  hopeful  race, 
I  into  such  distress  had  never  fallen 
As  now  o'erwhelms  me,  who  begot  a  youth 
Distinguished  by  his  courage,  and  of  him 
Am  now  deprived.     No  more.    But  what  remains 
For  me — wretch  that  I  am  ?    Shall  I  return 
To  my  own  home,  view  many  houses  left 
Without  inhabitants,  and  waste  the  dregs 
Of  life  in  hopeless  anguish,  or  repair 
To  the  abode  of  Capaneus,  with  joy 
By  me  frequented  while  my  daughter  lived  ? 
But  she  is  now  no  more,  who  loved  to  kiss 


My  furrowed  cheeks  and  stroked  this  hoary  head. 
Nought  can  dehght  us  more  than  the  attention 
Which  to  her  aged  sire  a  daughter  pays  : 
Though  our  male  progeny  have  souls  endued 
With  courage  far  superior,  yet  less  gently 
Do  they  these  soothing  offices  perform. 
Will  ye  not  quickly  drag  me  to  my  home, 
And  in  some  dungeon's  gloomy  hold  confine, 
To  wear  away  these  aged  limbs  by  famine  ? 
Me,  what,  alas  !  can  it  avail  to  touch 
My  daughter's  bones  !    WHiat  hatred  do  I  bear 
To  thee,  O  irresistible  old  age  ! 
Them,  too,  my  soul  abhors  who  vainly  strive 
To  lengthen  out  our  little  span  of  life  ; 
By  th'  easy  vehicle,  the  downy  couch, 
And  by  the  boasted  aid  of  mngic  song, 
Labouring  to  turn  aside  from  his  career 
Remorseless  death  :  when  they  who  have  no  longer 
The  strength  required  to  serve  their  native  land 
Should  vanish,  and  to  younger  men  give  place. 

Semichor.  Lo,  there  the  bones  of  my  slain  sons,  whose 
Already  in  funereal  pyres  have  blazed, 
Are  borne  along.     Support  a  weak  old  woman  : 
The  pangs  which  for  my  children's  loss  I  feel 
Deprive  me  of  all  strength.     I  long  have  mourned, 
And  am  enervated  by  many  griefs. 
Can  any  curse  severer  be  devised 
For  mortals  than  to  see  their  children  dead  ? 

Boy.  O  my  unhappy  mother,  from  the  flames 
I  bear  my  father's  relics,  which  my  sorrows 
Have  made  more  weighty  :  this  small  urn  contains 
All  my  possessions. 

Semichor.  Why  dost  thou  convey 

The  sad  and  pleasing  cause  of  many  tears 
To  the  afflicted  mothers  of  the  slain, 
A  little  heap  of  ashes  in  the  stead 
Of  those  who  in  Mycenae  were  renowned  ? 

Boy.  But  I,  a  wretched  orphan,  and  bereft 


Of  my  unhappy  father,  shall  receive 
For  my  whole  portion  a  deserted  house, 
Torn  from  the  tutelary  arms  of  him 
To  whom  I  owe  my  birth. 

Semichor.  Where,  where  are  those 

Whom  sorrowing  I  brought  forth,  whom  at  my  breast 
With  a  maternal  tenderness  I  reared. 
Their  slumbers  watched,  and  sweetest  kisses  gave  ? 

Boy.  Your  children  are  departed,  they  exist 
No  longer,  O  my  mother  ;  they  are  gone 
For  ever,  by  devouring  flames  consumed ; 
In  the  mid-air  they  float,  borne  on  light  wing 
To  Pluto.     O  my  sire,  for  sure  thou  hear'st 
Thy  children's  lamentations,  shall  I  bear 
The  shield  hereafter  to  avenge  thy  death  1 

Iph.  May  the  time  come,  my  son,  when  the  just  gods 
To  me  shall  for  thy  valiant  father's  death 
A  fiill  atonement  grant :  that  grievous  loss 
In  this  torn  heart  yet  rankles  unappeased. 

Boy.  I  our  hard  fortunes  have  enough  bewailed, 
My  sorrows  are  sufficient.     I  will  take 
My  stand  where  chosen  Grecian  chiefs,  arrayed 
In  brazen  arms,  with  transport  will  receive  me 
Th'  avenger  of  my  sire.     E'en  now  these  eyes 
Behold  thee,  O  my  father,  on  my  cheeks 
A  kiss  imprinting,  though  the  winds  have  borne 
Thy  noble  exhortations  far  away. 
But  thou  hast  left  two  mourners  here  behind, 
Me  and  my  mother  :  venerable  man, 
No  time  can  from  thy  wounded  soul  efface 
The  grief  thou  for  thy  children  feel'st. 

Iph.  The  load 

Of  anguish  which  I  suffer  is  so  great 
That  it  hath  quite  o'ercome  me.     Hither  bring. 
And  let  me  clasp  those  ashes  to  my  breast. 

Boy.  These  bitter  lamentations  have  I  heard 
With  streaming  tears  ;  they  rend  my  inmost  soul. 

Iph.  Thou,  O  my  son,  art  lost ;  and  I  no  more 
Thy  mother's  dear,  dear  image  shall  behold. 


Theseus,  Adrastus,  Iphis,  Chorus. 

The.  Behold  ye,  O  Adrastus,  and  ye  dames 
Of  Argive  race,  these  children,  in  their  hands 
Bearing  the  relics  of  their  valiant  sires, 
By  me  redeemed  ?    Athens  and  I,  these  gifts 
On  you  bestow :  still  are  ye  bound  to  cherish 
A  memory  of  those  benefits,  obtained 
Through  my  victorious  spear.     To  all  I  speak 
In  the  same  terms.     With  honour  due  repay 
This  city,  and  the  kindness  which  from  us 
Ye  have  experienced  to  your  children's  children 
Transmit  through  latest  ages.     But  let  Jove 
Bear  witness,  with  what  tokens  of  our  bounty 
Ye  from  this  realm  depart. 

Adr.  Full  well  we  know 

What  favours  you,  O  Theseus,  have  conferred 
Upon  the  Argive  land,  when  most  it  needed 
A  benefactor  ;  hence  will  we  retain 
Such  gratitude  as  time  shall  ne'er  efface. 
For  we,  the  generous  treatment  which  from  you 
We  have  received,  as  largely  should  requite. 

The.  Is  there  aught  else  I  can  bestow  1 

Adr.  All  hail ; 

For  you  and  Athens  every  bliss  deserve. 

The.  May  Heaven  this  wish   accomplish  !    and  mayst 
My  friend,  with  equal  happiness  be  crowned. 

Minerva,  Theseus,  Adrastus,  Iphis,  Chorus. 

MiN.  Attend,  O  Theseus,  to  Minerva's  words. 
And  thou  shalt  learn  what  thou  must  do  to  serve 
This  country  ;  give  not  to  the  boys  these  bones 
To  bear  to  Argos,  on  such  easy  terms 
Dismissing  them.     But  to  requite  the  toils 
Of  thee  and  of  thy  city,  first  exact 
A  solemn  oath,  and  let  Adrastus  swear. 
For  he,  its  king,  for  the  whole  Argive  realm 
Is  qualified  to  answer,  and  be  this 
The  form  prescribed  :  "  Ne'er  will  Mycene's  sons 


Into  this  land  a  hostile  squadron  lead, 

But  hence,  with  their  protended  spears,  repel 

Each  fierce  invader."     If  the  sacred  oath 

They  impiously  should  violate,  and  march 

Against  thy  city,  pray  that  utter  ruin 

May  light  on  Argos,  and  its  perjured  state. 

But  where  the  gods  require  that  thou  shalt  slay 

The  victims,  I  will  tell  thee ;  in  thy  palace 

On  brazen  feet  a  massive  tripod  stands 

"W'hich  erst  Alcides,  when  the  walls  of  Troy 

He  from  their  basis  had  o'erthrown,  and  rushed 

New  labours  to  accomplish,  gave  command 

Close  to  the  Pythian  altar  should  be  placed. 

When  on  this  tripod  thou  hast  slain  three  sheep, 

The  destined  victims,  in  its  hollow  rim 

Inscribe  the  oath ;  then  to  that  god  consign 

Who  o'er  the  Delphic  realm  presides  :  such  tablet 

To  Greece  shall  testify  the  league  ye  form. 

But  in  the  bowels  of  the  earth  conceal 

The  knife  with  which  the  victims  thou  hast  slain, 

For  this,  when  shown,  should  they  hereafter  come, 

With  armdd  bands,  this  city  to  assail. 

Will  strike  Mycene's  warriors  with  dismay, 

And  their  return  embitter.     When  these  rites 

Thou  hast  performed,  the  ashes  of  the  dead 

Send  from  this  region,  and  to  them  assign 

That  grove  in  which  their  corses  have  by  fire 

Been  purified,  the  spot  where  meet  three  roads 

Sacred  to  th'  Isthmian  goddess.     This  to  thee, 

O  Theseus,  have  I  spoken  :  to  the  boys 

Who  spring  from  those  slain  Argive  chiefs  I  add  : 

Ismenos'  city,  soon  as  ye  attain 

Maturer  years,  shall  ye  in  ruin  lay, 

Retaliating  the  slaughter  of  your  sires ; 

Thou  too,  y^gialeus,  a  youthful  chief, 

Shalt  in  thy  father's  stead  command  tlie  host, 

And  marching  from  yEtolia's  realm.,  the  son 

Of  Tydeus,  Diomede  by  name  ;  the  down 

No  sooner  shall  o'erspread  your  blooming  cheeks, 


Than  with  a  band  of  Argive  warriors  clad 

In  glittering  armour,  with  impetuous  rage, 

Ye  the  seven  Theban  turrets  shall  assail ; 

Them,  in  your  wrath,  shall  ye,  in  manhood's  prime, 

Like  whelps  of  lions  visit,  and  lay  waste 

The  city.     What  have  I  foretold,  ere  long 

Will  be  accomplished.     By  applauding  Greece 

Called  the  Epigoni,  ye  shall  become 

A  theme  for  your  descendants'  choral  songs, 

Such  squadrons  ye  to  battle  shall  lead  forth 

Favoured  by  righteous  Jove. 

The.  Thy  dread  injunctions, 

Minerva,  awful  queen,  will  I  obey  : 
For  I,  while  thou  direct'st  me,  cannot  err. 
I  from  Adrastus  will  exact  that  oath, 
Deign  only  thou  to  guide  my  steps  aright, 
For  to  our  city  if  thou  prov'st  a  friend 
We  shall  enjoy  blest  safety. 

Chor.  Let  us  go, 

Adrastus,  and  eternal  friendship  swear 
To  Theseus  and  his  city,  for  the  toils 
They  have  endured  our  grateful  reverence  claim. 





Attendants  of  Hippolytus. 
Officer  belonging  to  the 

Chorus  of  Trcezenian  Dames. 






SCENE— Before  Pittheus'  Palace  at  Trcezene. 


My  empire  man  confesses,  and  the  name 

Of  Venus  echoes  through  heaven's  wide  expanse. 

Among  all  those  who  on  the  distant  coast 

Of  ocean  dwell,  and  earth's  remotest  bounds 

Old  Atlas'  station  who  upholds  the  skies, 

Beholding  the  resplendent  solar  beams  ; 

On  them  who  to  my  power  due  homage  pay 

Great  honours  I  bestow,  and  to  the  dust 

Humble  each  proud  contemner.     E'en  the  race 

Of  happy  deities  with  pleasure  view 

The  reverence  mortals  yield  them.     Of  these  words 

Ere  long  will  I  display  the  truth  :  that  son 

Of  Theseus  and  the  Amazonian  dame, 

Hippolytus,  by  holy  Pittheus  taught, 

E'en  he  alone  among  all  those  who  dwell 

Here  in  Trcezene,  of  th'  immortal  powers 

Styles  me  the  v/eakest,  loathes  the  genial  bed, 

Nor  to  the  sacred  nuptial  yoke  will  bow  ; 

Apollo's  sister,  Dian,  sprung  from  Jove, 

He  worships,  her  the  greatest  he  esteems 

Of  all  the  gods,  and  ever  in  her  groves 


A  favoured  comrade  of  the  virgin  dwells, 

With  his  swift  hounds  the  flying  beasts  of  prey 

Expelling  from  their  haunts,  and  aims  at  more 

Than  human  nature  reaches.     Him  in  this 

I  envy  not :  why  should  I  ?    Yet  shall  vengeance 

This  day  o'ertake  the  miscreant :  I  have  forged 

Each  implement  already,  and  there  needs 

But  little  labour  to  effect  his  doom. 

For  erst,  on  his  arrival  from  the  house 

Of  Pittheus,  in  Pandion's  land,  to  view 

The  mystic  rites,  and  in  those  mystic  rites 

To  be  initiated,  his  father's  wife, 

Illustrious  Phaedra,  saw  the  prince,  her  heart 

At  my  behest  love's  dire  contagion  seized : 

And  ere  she  came  to  this  Troezeninn  coast, 

She,  where  Minerva's  rock  o'erlooks  this  land, 

To  Venus  reared  a  temple,  for  the  youth 

Who  in  a  foreign  region  dwelt,  engrossed 

By  amorous  frenzy,  and  to  future  times 

Resolved  this  lasting  monumental  j  ile 

Of  her  unhappy  passion  to  bequeath. 

But  from  Cecropia's  realm  since  Theseus  fled 

To  expiate  his  pollution,  with  the  blood 

Of  Pallas'  sons  distained,  and  with  his  queen 

Sailed  for  this  coast,  to  voluntary'  exile 

Submitting  for  one  year,  the  wretched  Phaedra, 

Groaning  and  deeply  smitten  by  the  stings 

Of  love,  hath  pined  in  silence,  nor  perceives 

One  of  her  menial  train  whence  this  disease 

Invaded  her.    Yet  of  its  full  effect 

Must  not  her  amorous  malady  thus  fail : 

For  I  to  Theseus  am  resolved  to  show 

The  truth,  no  longer  shall  it  rest  concealed  : 

Then  will  the  father  with  his  curses  slay 

My  youthful  foe  :  for  the  reward  on  Theseus 

Conferred  by  Neptune,  ruler  of  the  waves. 

Was  this  :  that  thrice  he  to  that  god  might  sue 

For  any  gift,  nor  should  he  sue  in  vain. 

Phaedra  is  noble,  yet  she  too  shall  perish, 


For  I  of  such  importance  shall  not  hold 

Her  ruin  as  to  spare  those  foes,  on  whom 

I  the  severest  vengeance  will  inflict, 

That  I  may  reassert  my  injured  fame. 

But  hence  must  I  retreat :  for  I  behold 

Hippolytus,  this  son  of  Theseus,  comes. 

Returning  from  the  labours  of  the  chase  : 

A  numerous  band  of  servants,  on  their  prince 

Attending,  in  the  clamorous  song  unite 

To  celebrate  Diana  :  for  he  knows  not 

That  hell  hath  oped  its  gates,  and  he  is  doomed 

After  this  day  to  view  the  sun  no  more.  \Exit  VENUS. 

Hippolytus,  Attendants, 

Hip.  Come  on,  my  friends,  attune  your  lays 
To  resound  Diana's  praise, 
From  the  radiant  fields  of  air 
She  listens  to  her  votaries'  prayer. 
Att.  Awful  queen  enthroned  above. 
Hail  thou  progeny  of  Jove, 
Virgin  goddess,  whom  of  yore 
Latona  to  the  Thunderer  bore, 
Thy  matchless  beauties  far  outshine 
Each  of  those  lovely  maids  divine, 
Who  fill  with  their  harmonious  choir 
The  domes  of  Heaven's  immortal  sire. 
Hail,  O  thou  whose  charms  excel 
All  nymphs  that  on  Olympus  dwell. 
Hip.  To  deck  thee,  I  this  wreath,  O  goddess,  bear, 
Cropt  from  yon  mead,  6'^er  which  ri6*swain  his  ffock 
For  pasture  drives,  nor  hath  the  mower's  steel 
Despoiled  its  virgin  herbage;  'midst  each  flower. 
Which  spring  profusely  scatters,  there  the  bee 
Roams  unmolested,  and  rehgious  awe 
Waters  the  champaign  with  abundant  springs  : 
They  who  owe  nought  to  learning,  but  have  gained 
From  nature  wisdom  such  as  never  fails 
In  their  whole  conduct,  are  by  Heaven  allowed 
To  cull  these  sweets,  not  so  the  wretch  profane. 


Vouchsafe,  O  dearest  goddess,  to  receive 
This  braided  fillet  for  thy  golden  hair, 
From  me  a  pious  votary,  who  alone 
Of  all  mankind  am  for  thy  worship  meet. 
For  I  with  thee  reside,  with  thee  converse, 
Hearing  thy  voice  indeed,  though  I  thy  face 
Have  never  seen.     My  life  as  it  began 
May  I  with  spotless  purity  conclude  ! 

Officer,  Hippolytus. 

Off.  My  royal  master  (for  the  gods  alone 
Challenge  the  name  of  lord),  will  you  receive 
A  servant's  good  advice  .■* 

Hip.  With  joy;  else  void 

Of  wisdom  I  to  thee  might  justly  seem. 

Off.  Know  you  the  law  prescribed  to  man  ? 

Hip,  The  law  ! 

I  cannot  guess  the  purport  of  thy  question. 

Off.  To  loathe  that  pride  which  studies  not  to  please. 

Hip.  Right  :  for  what  haughty  man  is  not  abhorred  ? 

Off.  Doth  then  an  affable  demeanour  tend 
To  make  us  popular  ? 

Hip.  This  much  avails. 

And  teaches  us  with  ease  to  gain  renown. 

Off.  But  think'st  thou  that  among  celestial  powers 
It  bears  an  equal  influence  ."• 

Hip.  Since  the  laws 

By  which  we  mortals  act  from  Heaven  derive 
Their  origin. 

Off.  Why,  then,  an  awful  goddess 

Neglect  you  to  invoke .'' 

Hip.  Whom  ?    Yet  beware. 

Lest  thy  tongue  utter  some  imprudent  word. 

Off.  This  Venus  who  is  stationed  o'er  your  gate. 

Hip.  Still  chaste  I  at  a  distance  her  salute. 

Off.  By  mortals  deemed  illustrious  she  exacts 
Your  worship. 

Hip.  We  select  this  god,  that  friend. 

As  suits  our  various  tempers. 


Off.  Were  3'0ii  wise, 

Wise  as  _\  ou  ought,  yo;i  might  be  truly  happy. 

Hip.  I  am  not  pleased  with  any  god  whose  rites 
Demand  nocturnal  secresy. 

Off.  My  son, 

We  ought  to  reverence  the  immortal  powers. 

Hip.  Entering  the  palace,  O  my  friends,  prepare 
The  viands,  after  a  fatiguing  chase 
Delicious  is  the  banquet  :  tend  my  steeds, 
That,  when  I  have  refreshed  myself  with  food. 
Them  I  with  more  convenience  to  the  car 
May  yoke  and  exercise  :  but  as  for  this 
Thy  Cyprian  queen,  to  her  I  bid  adieu. 

\Exeunt  Hippolytus  a;?^  Attendants. 

Off.  Meantime  (for  the  example  of  young  men 
Must  not  be  imitated),  prompt  to  think, 
And  hold  such  language  as  a  servant  ought, 
Before  thy  image  I  devoutly  bend, 
O  sovereign  Venus,  thee  doth  it  behove 
To  pardon  the  rash  boy  who,  flushed  with  pride, 
Speaks  foolishly  :  seem  thou  as  if  his  words 
Had  never  reached  thine  ear  :  for  sure  the  gods 
In  wisdom  should  transcend  man's  grovelling  race. 

{^Exit  Officer. 



I.  I. 

A  rock  supplies,  as  we  are  told, 
In  such  abundance  the  exhaustless  rill, 
That  oft  the  virgins  'gainst  its  basis  hold 
Their  copious  urns  to  fill. 

One  of  our  associate  train 

Thither,  in  the  limpid  wave, 

Went,  her  purple  vests  to  lave, 
Then  hung  them  dripping  on  a  cliflf,  to  drain 

And  imbibe  the  sunny  gale  : 

I  from  her  first  caught  this  tale  : 


I.    2. 

That  with  sickness  faint,  alone, 
In  yonder  palace  on  her  sleepless  bed 
Our  queen  reclines,  she  a  thin  veil  hath  thrown 
Over  her  beauteous  head  : 

This  the  third  revolving  day, 

Since,  o'erpowered  by  lingering  pains. 

She  from  all  nourishment  abstains, 
Wasting  that  lovely  frame  with  slow  decay  ; 

She  thus  her  hidden  griefs  would  end, 
Thus  to  the  silent  grave  descend. 
II.   I. 

From  some  god  this  impulse  springs  ; 
Sure  Pan  or  Hecate  have  fired  thy  brain, 
Or  awful  Cybel^  to  vex  thee  brings 
Her  priests,  a  frantic  train  ; 

Perhaps,  exulting  in  the  chase, 

Thee  Dictynna  doth  pursue, 

For  neglecting  homage  due 
Her  altar  with  the  promised  cates  to  grace. 

She  swiftly  glides  o'er  mountain  steep, 

Fords  the  lake  or  billowy  deep. 

II.    2. 

Have  another's  witching  charms 
Seduced  the  monarch  to  a  stol'n  embrace ; 
Doth  then  a  harlot  in  thy  Theseus'  arms 
The  nuptial  couch  disgrace? 

Or  from  Cretan  shores  I  ween 

Some  sailor  crossed  the  billowy  main. 

Reached  this  hospitable  plain, 
And  bore  a  doleful  message  to  the  queen  : 

Hence  with  deepest  anguish  pained 

In  her  bed  is  she  detained. 

Some  hidden  grief  with  pregnant  throes  combined 

Oft  dwells  upon  the  female  mind, 
Erst  in  my  entrails  raged  this  hidden  smart : 

Diana,  that  celestial  maid. 


Amid  the  pangs  of  childbirth  wont  to  aid, 

I  then  invoked,  and  she,  whose  dart 
Pierces  the  hind,  with  tutelary  care 

Descended  at  her  votary's  prayer, 
And  with  her  brought  each  friendly  power 
Who  gfuards  our  sex  in  that  distressful  hour. 

But  lo  !  her  aged  nurse  before  the  gates 
Leads  out  the  queen,  over  whose  downcast  brow 
Care  spreads  a  deeper  cloud  :  my  mmost  soul 
Bums  with  impatience  to  explore  the  grief 
Which  preys  in  secret  on  her  fading  charms. 

Ph/edra,  Nurse,  Chorus. 

NUR.  Ye  wretched  mortals,  who  by  loathed  disease 
Are  visited  !     What  shall  I  do  co  aid  thee. 
Or  what  shall  I  omit  ?     The  solar  beams 
Here  mayst  thou  view,  here  find  a  cooling  air. 
For  we  without  the  palace  doors  have  borne 
The  couch  where  sickening  thou  reclin'st.     Tliy  talk 
Was  all  of  coming  hither  :  but  in  haste 
Back  to  thy  chamber  soon  wilt  thou  return  : 
For  thou,  each  moment  altering,  tak'st  delight 
In  nothing  long ;  the  present  quickly  grows 
Unpleasing,  somewhat  absent  thou  esteem  st 
More  grateful.     Better  were  it  lO  be  sick 
Than  tend  the  lingering  patient ,  for  the  first 
Is  but  a  simple  ill,  the  last  unites 
The  mind's  more  pungent  griefs  and  manual  toil. 
But  the  whole  life  of  man  abounds  with  woe, 
Our  labours  never  cease  .  yet  sure  there  is, 
There  is  a  blest  futurity,  concealed 
Behind  thick  night's  impenetrable  veil. 
We  therefore  seem  mistaken,  when  we  dote 
On  yonder  sun,  that  o'er  this  nether  earth 
Displays  its  glittering  beams,  because  we  know 
No  other  life,  nor  have  the  realms  beneath 
Been  e'er  laid  open  :  but  by  tales,  devised 
To  cheat,  at  random  are  we  borne  away. 

PHyE.  Lift  up  my  body,  prop  my  sinking  head, 


Each  limb,  my  friends,  has  lost  its  strength;  sustain, 
O  ye  who  on  your  wretched  mistress  tend, 
My  hands,  which  hang  quite  motionless  :  away 
With  cumbrous  ornaments,  the  caul  remove, 
And  let  these  tresses  o'er  my  shoulders  flow. 

NUR.  Daughter,  be  cheerful,  and  compose  to  rest 
Thy  languid  frame  :  thou,  if  with  patience  armed 
And  generous  fortitude  of  soul,  wilt  bear 
Thy  sickness  better.     For  mankind  are  doomed 
By  fate  to  struggle  with  a  load  of  ills. 

PHiE.  How  shall  I  drink  at  yonder  limpid  fount 
The  cooling  waters,  and  'midst  grassy  vales 
Recline  my  wearied  limbs  beneath  the  shade 
Of  spreading  alders  1 

NUR.  What  confused  discourse 

Escapes  thee  ?     Utter  not  before  the  crowd 
Such  words  as  closely  border  on  distraction. 

PHiE.  Lead  to  yon  mount ;  I  tread  the  piny  grove, 
Where  the  staunch  hounds  along  the  mazy  track 
Follow  their  prey,  and,  lightly  bounding,  seize 
The  dappled  stag.     Ye  gods,  with  my  shrill  voice 
What  joy  to  rouse  them,  while  my  auburn  hair 
Floats  in  the  wanton  gale,  and  brandish  round 
In  my  firm  hand  Thessalia's  pointed  lance. 

NUR.  Whence,  O  my  child,  proceed  these  anxious  cares  ? 
What  business  with  the  chase  hast  thou  ?    Why  thirst 
For  the  pure  fountain,  while  a  constant  spring, 
Whose  waters  thou  mayst  drink,  flows  hard  beside 
The  citadel  ? 

PHiE.  Dread  Artemis,  thou  goddess 

Presiding  o'er  yon  sacred  lake,  who  aid'st 
The  fleet-hoofed  racer,  bear  me  o'er  thy  fields 
To  tame  Hennetia's  coursers. 

NuR.  Why  repeat 

These  incoherent  words  ?     But  now  to  climb 
The  mountain's  lofty  summit  was  thy  wish 
That  thou  might'st  hunt,  then  on  the  sandy  beach 
To  drive  thy  steeds.     O  for  an  abler  seer 
Who  can  expound  what  god  with  iron  curb 
Subdues  my  daughter  and  perverts  thy  soul. 


PHiE.  Ah,  what  have  I  been  doing  ?    Wretched  me  ! 
From  my  right  senses  whither  have  I  wandered  ? 
Into  this  frenzy  I,  alas  !  am  plunged 
By  some  malignant  demon.     Yet  once  more 
Cover  my  head.     The  words  which  I  have  spoken 
Fill  me  with  conscious  shame,  and  many  a  tear 
Streams  down  my  cheeks  ;  I  feel  the  rising  blush, 
And  know  not  where  to  turn  these  eyes.     The  pang, 
When  reason  reassumes  her  throne,  is  great. 
Though  madness  be  an  evil  :  yet  'tis  best 
When  in  that  state  unconscious  we  expire. 

NuR.  Thee  thus  I  cover  :  but  ah,  when  will  death 
Cover  my  body  ?     A  long  life  hath  taught  me 
Full  many  a  useful  lesson.     Friendships  formed 
With  moderation  for  the  humr.n  race 
Are  most  expedient,  and  not  such  as  pierce 
The  marrow  of  their  souls  :  with  the  same  ease 
As  they  the  sacred  chords  entwine  they  ought 
To  slacken  them  at  will.     But  for  one  heart 
To  suffer  twofold  anguish,  as  I  grieve 
For  my  unhappy  mistress,  is  a  load 
Beyond  endurance.     'Tis  remarked,  there  springs 
From  all  sensations  too  intense,  more  pain 
Than  pleasure,  and  our  health  they  oft  impair. 
A  foe  to  all  excess,  I  rather  praise 
This  sentence,  "  Not  too  much  of  anything ;  " 
And  in  my  judgment  will  the  wise  concur. 

Chor.  Thou  aged  dame,  who  hast  with  steadfast  zeal 
Attended  royal  Phasdra,  we  observe 
What  agonies  she  suffers,  but  discern  not 
The  nature  of  her  malady ;  and  wish 
By  thee  to  be  instructed  whence  it  springs. 

NuR.  I  know  not  ;  for  no  answer  will  she  give 
To  my  inquiries. 

Chor.  Nor  the  source  whence  rise 

Her  sufferings? 

NuR.  Your  account  and  mine  agree  : 

For  she  on  all  these  points  remains  still  dumb. 

Chor.  How  faint  and  wasted  seems  that  graceful 
form  1 


NUR.  No  wonder ;  since  she  tasted  any  food 
This  day's  the  third. 

Chor.  By  Ate's  wrath  o'ercome, 

Or  does  she  strive  to  die  ? 

NuR.  To  die  she  strives, 

And  by  such  abstinence  her  hfe  would  end. 

Chor.  Strange  is  thy  tale  :  this  cannot  please  her  lord. 

NUR.  From  him  she  hides  her  sickness,  and  pretends 
To  be  in  health. 

Chor.  If  in  her  face  he  look, 

Can  he  not  read  it  ? 

Nur.  To  a  foreign  land 

From  hence,  alas  !  he  went,  nor  yet  returns. 

Chor.  Why  art  thou  not  more  urgent  to  explore 
This  malady,  these  wanderings  of  her  soul .'' 

NUR.  Without  effect  all  methods  have- 1  tried  : 
Yet  with  the  self-same  zeal  will  I  persist, 
That  ye  may  testify  the  strong  attachment 
Which  I  to  my  unhappy  queen  have  borne. 

0  my  loved  daughter,  let  us  both  forget 

What  we  have  said  :  be  thou  more  mild,  that  gloom 
Which  overcasts  thy  brow,  those  harsh  resolves. 
Lay  thou  aside,  and  if  to  thee  erewhile 

1  spoke  amiss,  in  milder  accents  now 
Will  I  express  myself;  if  under  pains 
Thou  labour,  such  as  may  not  be  revealed,    • 
To  succour  thee  thy  female  friends  are  here. 
But  if  the  other  sex  may  know  thy  sufferings. 
Let  the  physician  try  his  healing  art. 

In  either  case,  why  silent  ?    It  behoves  thee, 
O  daughter,  to  reply  ;  and,  if  I  speak 
Unwittingly,  reprove  me,  if  aright, 
With  wholesome  admonition,  O  concur. 
Say  somewhat :  cast  one  look  this  way.    Ah  me  ! 
But  listen  to  this  truth,  though  more  perverse 
Than  ocean's  waves  :  thy  children,  if  thou  die, 
Will  be  deserted,  and  can  have  no  share 
In  the  paternal  house  :  for  his  first  queen. 
That  martial  Amazonian  dame,  hath  borne 

HIP  POL  YTUS.  2'j^ 

Their  sire  a  son  to  lord  it  o'er  thy  race, 
Though  illegitimate,  with  liberal  views 
Trained  up  from  infancy,  him  well  thou  know'st, 

PHiE.  Ah  me ! 

NUR.  Doth  then  that  name 

Affect  thee  ? 

Ph^.  You  have  ruined  me  ;  peace,  peace  : 

Be  silent,  I  conjure  you  by  the  gods, 
Speak  of  that  man  no  more. 

Nuk.  With  open  eyes, 

And  senses  now  restored,  canst  thou  neglect 
Thy  children's  interest,  nor  preserve  thy  life  ? 

PHiE.  I  love  my  clildren :  but  another  storm 
Assails  me. 

NUR.  O  my  daughter,  sure  thy  hands 

Are  uadefiled  with  blood  ? 

PHjE.  My  hands  are  pure, 

Yet  doth  pollution  harbour  in  my  soul. 

NuR.  Proceeds  this  mischief  from  some  foe  ? 

VnM.  A  friend — 

An  unconsenting  friend,  alas  ! — destroys  me, 
Nor  do  I  perish  through  my  own  consent. 

NUR.  Hath  Theseus  wronged  thee .'' 

FiiM.  May  I  ne'er  be  found 

To  have  injured  him  ! 

NuR.  Then  what  important  cause 

Precipitates  thy  death .'' 

Ph^.  Indulge  my  error  ; 

For  I  'gainst  you  offend  not. 

NUR.  My  assent 

To  such  request  would  be  a  breach  of  duty. 

Ph^.  What  mean  you  by  this  violence  ?     Why  hang 
Upon  my  hand  ? 

NUR.  In  suppliant  posture  thus, 

Thus  to  thy  knees  for  ever  will  I  cling. 

Phje.  If  you,  unhappy  woman,  heard  my  woes, 
You  would  partake  them. 

NuR.  What  severer  woe 


Can  possibly  befall  me  than  the  loss 

Of  thee,  my  honoured  mistress  ?     For  I  see 

Thou  art  resolved  to  perish. 

Ph^e.  This  affair 

To  me  will  bring  renown. 

NUR.  Why  then  conceal 

Those  merits  into  which  I  wish  t'  inquire  ? 

PHiE.  Me  virtuous  motives  prompt  to  deeds  of  shame. 

NuR.  Reveal  those  motives,  hence  shalt  thou  appear 
More  noble. 

Ph^e.  O  depart,  I  by  the  gods 

Conjure  you,  and  release  my  hand. 

NUR.  Not  thus, 

If  this  request  from  me  thou  still  withhold. 

PHjE.  I  will  comply  ;  for  you,  my  aged  suppliant, 
Such  due  respect  I  entertain. 

NuR.  In  silence 

Will  I  attend  :  now  is  it  thine  to  speak. 

Ph^e.  My  wretched  mother,  what  a  love  was  thine  ! 

NUR.  Why  shouldst  thou  name  her  passion  for  that  bull  "i 

Ph^.  And  you,  my  hapless  sister,  Bacchus'  wife — 

NuR.  What  ails  thee  .-*    Why  dost  thou  recount  the  shame 
Of  these  thy  kindred  ? 

Ph^.  But  of  me  the  third, 

How  wretched  is  the  fate  ! 

NuR.  Thou  strik'st  me  dumb. 

Where  will  this  history  end  ? 

PHiE.  Thence  spring  my  woes, 

Woes  of  no  recent  date. 

NuR.  I  understand 

As  little  of  the  secret  I  would  learn, 
As  if  thou  still  wert  silent. 

PHiE.  How  should  you 

Divine  my  thoughts  so  as  t'  anticipate 
What  I  would  speak  ? 

NUR.  No  prophetess  am  I, 

These  mysteries  with  precision  to  unfold. 

Ph^.  Say  what  is  that  which  men  entitle  love  ? 

NuR.  Love  is  a  mixture  formed  of  sweetest  joys 
And  torments  most  severe. 


Ph^e.  The  last  of  these 

Have  I  experienced. 

NuR.  Daughter,  ha,  what  snidst  thou  ? 

For  whom  thus  burn'st  thou  with  forbidden  fires  ? 

PHiE.  Who  is  that  son  of  th'  Amazonian  dame  ? 

NUR.  Mean'st  thou  Hippolytus  ? 

PHiE.  By  you,  not  me, 

That  name  was  uttered. 

NuR.  Ah,  what  words  are  these  ? 

How  hast  thou  ruined  me  !     This,  O  my  friends. 
Is  not  to  be  endured  ;  I  cannot  live 
To  bear  it  :  to  these  eyes  the  lamp  of  day 
Grows  odious  ;  the  encumbrance  of-this  body 
Will  I  cast  off,  nor  on  such  tenure  hold 
A  being  I  abhor.     And  now  farewell 
For  ever  !     Count  me  dead.     Chaste  matrons  yield 
With  some  reluctance,  yet  to  lawless  love 
At  length  they  yield.     Venus  is  then  no  goddess, 
But  somewhat  mere  than  goddess  :  for  my  queen 
And  me,  and  this  whole  house,  hath  she  destroyed. 



Too  clear  thou  heard'st  the  royal  dame  confess 

The  horrors  which  her  bosom  stain  : 
O  had  I  died  ere  this  severe  distress 
Shook  reason's  seat  and  fired  her  frantic  brain  ! 

Thy  sorrows  are  by  Heaven  decreed. 

Ye  miseries  on  which  mortals  feed  ! 

Thy  shame  lies  open  to  the  sun, 
And  thou,  my  royal  mistress,  art  undone. 
Short  is  thy  date  : 
What  cruel  fate, 

Such  as  with  life  alone  can  end, 

Shall  to  the  grave  thy  steps  attend  ! 

I  see,  I  see  through  time's  deep  gloom. 

These  mansions  fall  by  Venus'  doom  : 

Such  revolution  is  at  hand, 
Thee,  hapless  Cretan  nymph,  the  fates  demand. 


PHi«    O  ye  Troezenian  matrons,  who  reside 
On  this  extremity  of  the  domains 
Where  Pelops  ruled  ;  through  many  a  wakeful  night 
Have  1  considered  whence  mankind  became 
Thus  universally  corrupt,  and  deem 
That  to  the  nature  of  the  human  soul 
Our  frailties  are  not  owing,  for  to  form 
Sound  judgments  is  a  privilege  enjoyed 
By  many.     But  the  matter  in  this  light 
Ought  to  be  viewed  ;  well  knowing  what  is  good, 
We  practise  not.     Some  do  amiss  through  sloth. 
Others  to  virtue's  rigid  laws  prefer 
Their  pleasures  ;  for  with  various  pleasures  life 
Is  furnished  ;  conversation  lengthened  out 
Beyond  due  bounds  ;  ease,  that  bewitching  pest 
And  shame,  of  which  there  are  two  kinds — one  leads 
To  virtue,  by  the  other  is  a  house 
Involved  in  woe  ;  but  if  the  proper  season 
For  our  expressing  shame  were  ascertained 
With  due  precision,  things  which  bear  one  name 
Could  not  have  differed  thus.     When  in  my  mind 
I  had  revolved  these  thoughts,  to  me  it  seemed 
As  if  no  magic  had  sufficient  power 
To  warp  the  steadfast  purpose  of  my  soul. 
Here  I  to  you  the  progress  of  my  heart 
Will  next  unfold,  since  love  with  his  keen  shafts 
These  wounds  inflicted ;  studious  how  to  bear. 
As  it  became  me,  this  abhorred  disease, 
I  from  that  time  have  by  a  wary  silence 
Concealed  the  pangs  I  suffer.     For  the  tongue 
Must  not  be  trusted,  well  can  it  suggest 
To  others  wholesome  counsels  when  they  err, 
Though  to  its  owner  oft  it  proves  the  source 
Of  grievous  ills.     I  next  this  amorous  rage 
With  firmness  was  determined  to  endure, 
And  conquer  it  by  chastity.     At  length, 
When  all  these  sage  expedients  proved  too  weak 
O'er  Venus  to  prevail,  my  best  resource 
I  thought  was  death  :  none  hath  a  right  to  blame 

HIPPO  L  YTUS.  283 

These  counsels.     May  my  virtues  be  conspicuous  ; 

But  when  I  act  amiss,  I  would  avoid 

Too  many  witnesses.     That  on  such  deed, 

And  e'en  the  inclination  to  transgress, 

Disgrace  attends,  I  knew,  and  was  aware 

That  if  from  honour's  paths  a  woman  swerve 

She  to  the  world  is  odious.     On  her  head 

Be  tenfold  ruin  heaped  who  first  presumed 

To  introduce  adulterers,  and  defile 

The  nuptial  couch  ;  from  those  of  nobler  birth 

Begun  this  evil  through  our  sex  to  spread. 

For  when  foul  deeds  please  those  who  erst  have  borne 

A  virtuous  character,  to  souls  depraved 

They  recommend  themselves  beneath  a  form 

Of  seeming  excellence.     Those  too  I  hate 

Whose  words  are  modest,  but  their  lives  impure 

In  private.     O  thou  goddess,  who  didst  rise 

From  ocean,  lovely  Venus,  how  can  these 

Without  a  blush  their  injured  lords  behold  .■* 

Tremble  they  not,  lest  their  accomplice  darkness, 

Or  lest  the  vaulted  roofs  of  their  abodes, 

Should  send  forth  an  indignant  voice .''     This  robs 

Your  queen  of  life,  my  friends  :  so  shall  the  charge 

Of  having  shamed  my  lord,  my  children  shamed, 

Be  never  urged  against  me  :  free  and  blest 

With  liberty  of  speech,  in  the  famed  city 

Of  Athens,  they  shall  dwell,  maternal  fame 

Transmitted  for  their  portion.     E'en  the  man 

Of  dauntless  courage  dwindles  to  a  slave 

If  conscious  that  his  mother  or  his  sire 

Have  acted  wickedly.     One  only  good, 

A  just  and  virtuous  soul,  the  wise  affirm, 

Strives  for  pre-eminence  with  life  :  for  time, 

At  length,  when  like  some  blooming  nymph  her  charms 

Contemplating,  he  to  our  eyes  holds  up 

His  mirror,  every  guilty  wretch  displays. 

Among  that  number  may  I  ne'er  be  found  ! 

Chor.  Wherever  we  discern  it,  O  how  fair 
Is  modesty,  that  source  of  bright  renown ! 


NuR.  O  queen,  at  first,  an  instantaneous  shock, 
I,  from  the  history  of  thy  woes,  received : 
Now  am  I  sensible  my  fears  were  groundless. 
But  frequently  the  second  thoughts  of  man 
Are  more  discreet ;  for  there  is  nothing  strange, 
Nought,  in  thy  sufferings,  foreign  to  the  course 
Of  nature  :  thee  the  goddess  in  her  rage 
Invades.     Thou  loVst.     And  why  should  this  surprise? 
Many  as  well  as  thee  have  done  the  same. 
Art  thou  resolved  to  cast  thy  life  away 
Because  thou  lov'st?     How  wretched  were  the  state 
Of  those  who  love,  and  shall  hereafter  love, 
If  death  must  thence  ensue  !     For  though  too  strong 
To  be  withstood,  when  she  with  nil  her  might 
Assails  us,  Venus  gently  visits  those 
Who  yield  ;  but  if  she  light  on  one  who  soars 
With  proud  and  overweening  views  too  high. 
As  thou  mayst  well  conceive,  to  utter  scorn 
Such  she  exposes  ;  through  the  boundless  tracts 
Of  air  she  glides,  and  reigns  'midst  ocean's  waves  : 
All  things  from  her  their  origin  derive, 
'Tis  she  that  in  each  breast  the  genial  seeds 
Of  potent  love  infuses,  and  from  love 
Descends  each  tribe  that  fills  the  peopled  earth. 
They  who  with  ancient  virritings  have  conversed, 
And  ever  dwell  among  the  tuneful  Nine, 
Know  how  to  Theban  Semele's  embrace 
Flew  amorous  Jove,  how  bright  Aurora  stole 
Young  Ceplialus,  and  placed  among  the  gods 
The  object  of  her  passion  :  yet  in  Heaven 
They  still  reside,  where  unabashed  they  meet 
Their  kindred  gods  ;  those  gods,  because  they  feel 
A  sympathetic  wound,  I  deem,  indulge 
Their  weakness  :  and  wilt  thou  refuse  to  bear 
Like  imperfections  ?     Nature  on  these  terms 
Decreed  thou  from  thy  father  shouldst  receive 
Thy  being  :  look  for-other  gods,  or  yield 
Submission  to  these  laws.     Hast  thou  observed, 
How  many  husbands,  men  who  are  endued 


With  a  superior  wisdom,  \\hen  they  see 

The  nuptial  bed  by  secret  lust  defiled, 

Appear  as  though  they  saw  not  :  and  how  oft 

The  fathers,  if  their  sons  transgress,  connive 

At  their  unhappy  passion  ?     To  conceal 

Unseemly  actions  is  no  trifling  part 

Of  human  wisdom ;  nor  should  man  his  life 

Form  with  too  great  precision  ;  for  the  roof, 

The  covering  from  the  storm,  the  builder  leaves 

Less  fair,  less  highly  finished.     If  immersed 

In  evils  great  as  those  thou  hast  described, 

How  canst  thou  hope  to  'scape  ?     But  if  thy  virtues. 

Since  thou  art  only  human,  far  exceed 

Thy  failings,  it  is  well  with  thee  :  desist, 

O  my  loved  daughter,  from  thy  evil  purpose. 

And  cease  to  utter  these  reproachful  words  : 

For  there  is  nought  but  contumelious  pride 

In  thy  endeavour  to  be  yet  more  perfect 

Than  the  immortal  gods  :  endure  thy  passion 

With  fortitude,  since  'twas  the  will  divine 

That  thou  shouldst  love  :  but  give  a  prosperous  turn, 

If  possible,  to  thy  disease.     For  songs 

There  are  with  magic  virtues  fraught,  and  words 

Which  soothe  the  soul :  hence  an  effectual  cure 

May  be  obtained  :  in  such  discovery  man 

Would  long  in  vain  be  busied,  to  our  sex 

If  no  spontaneous  stratagem  occur. 

Chor.  Though  her  advice,  .imid  thy  present  woes, 
O  Phaedra,  be  more  useful,  I  applaud 
Thy  better  purpose  :  yet  applause  unsought 
May  haply  give  offence,  and  to  thine  ear 
Convey  sounds  harsher  than  her  specious  words. 

Ph^.  'Tis  this,  e'en  this,  too  plausible  a  tongue, 
Which  states  administered  by  wholesome  laws, 
And  houses  of  the  mighty,  hath  o'erthrown  : 
Nor  should  we  utter  what  delights  the  ear, 
But  for  renown  a  generous  thirst  instil. 

NUR.  What  means  this  grave  harangue  ?    No  need 
hast  thou 


Of  well-turned  phrases,  but  the  man  thou  lov'st. 

Look  out  with  speed  for  those  who,  in  clear  terms, 

Will  to  the  prince  thy  real  state  unfold. 

But  had  not  such  calamities  assailed 

Thy  life,  and  thou  remained  a  virtuous  dame, 

I  ne'er,  to  gratify  thy  wild  desires, 

Would  have  enticed  thee  to  a  lawless  bed  : 

But  now  this  great  exertion,  to  preserve 

Thy  life,  is  such  as  envy  could  not  blame. 

Ph^.  Detested  speech  !    Will  you  ne'er  close  that 
And  the  ungrateful  repetition  cease 
Of  words  so  infamous  ? 

NUR.  What  I  proposed, 

Though  culpable  it  be,  far  better  suits 
Thy  interests  than  severer  virtue's  rules ; 
For  indiscretion,  if  it  save  thy  life, 
Hath  far  more  merit  than  that  empty  name 
Thy  pride  would  make  thee  perish  to  retain. 

Ph^.  I  by  the  gods  conjure  you  to  desist 
(For  you,  in  terms  too  plausible,  express 
Things  that  are  infamous),  nor  m  this  strain 
Attempt  to  prove  that,  yielding  up  my  soul 
To  love,  I  shall  act  right  :  for  if  you  paint 
Foul  deeds  with  specious  colours,  in  the  snares 
From  which  I  now  am  'scaping  I  afresh 
Shall  be  entangled. 

NUR.  Hadst  thou  earlier  formed 

These  rigid  notions,  thou  shouldst  ne'er  have  erred. 
But  since  this  cannot  be,  my  counsel  hear  : 
From  thee  this  second  favour  I  request ; 
I  in  my  house  have  philtres  to  assuage 
The  pangs  of  love  (which  but  just  now  occurred 
To  my  remembrance)  ;  these,  nor  to  disgrace 
Exposing  thee,  nor  of  such  strong  effect 
As  to  impair  thy  reason,  yet  will  work 
On  this  thy  malady  a  perfect  cure, 
Unless  through  mere  perverseness  thou  refuse 
To  make  th'  experiment :  for  we  from  him 


Thou  lov'st,  must  either  take  a  sign,  a  word, 
Or  fragment  of  his  robe,  to  join  two  hearts 
In  mutual  love. 

Ph^.  But  is  this  wondrous  medicine 

You  recommend  an  ointment  or  a  potion  ? 

NuR.  I  cannot  tell.     Search  for  a  cure,  my  child, 
And  not  instruction, 

Ph^.  Greatly  do  I  fear 

Your  wisdom  will  be  carried  to  excess. 

NuR.  Know  then  thou  art  disposed  to  be  alarmed 
At  everything.     But  whence  arise  these  terrors  1 

Ph^.  Aught  that  hath  passed,  les-t  you  to  Theseus'  son 
Should  mention. 

NUR.  Peace,  O  daughter,  be  it  mine 

To  manage  this  aright :  I  only  sue. 
Benignant  goddess,  sprung  from  ocean's  waves. 
That  thou,  O  Venus,  wouldst  my  projects  aid. 
But  to  our  friends  within,  will  it  suffice  \t^<^<}  ■-■ 
The  rest  of  my  intentions  to  unfold. 

\_Exit  Nurse. 



I.  I. 
O  love,  whose  sweet  delusions  fly, 
Instilling  passion  through  the  eye, 

And  steal  upon  the  heart. 
Never  thus  my  soul  engage, 
Come  not  with  immoderate  rage. 

Nor  choose  thy  keenest  dart : 
Not  the  lightning's  awful  glare, 
Not  the  thunderbolts  of  Jove, 
Such  destructive  terrors  bear, 
As  strongly  vibrate  in  the  shafts  of  love. 

I.  2. 
On  Alpheus'  banks  in  vain,  in  vain, 
Or  at  Apollo's  Delphic  fane. 

Whole  herds  of  slaughtered  kine 
Doth  Greece  present,  if  we  neglect 


Venus'  son,  who  claims  respect, 

Tlie  genial  couch  his  shrine  : 
With  the  vengeance  of  a  foe, 
If  the  deity  invades, 
On  man  he  pours  forth  every  woe. 
And  crowds  with  victims  all  the  Stygian  shades. 

II.  I. 

By  Venus  was  CEchalia's  maid, 
Of  hymeneal  bonds  afraid, 

Consigned  in  days  of  yore, 
Like  a  wild  filly  to  the  yoke, 
Espoused  'midst  horrid  slaughter,  smoke, 

And  rites  profaned  with  gore  ; 
Indignant  was  the  virgin  led, 
Streaming  with  dishevelled  hair, 
To  the  stern  Alcides'  bed, 
While  bridal  shouts  were  mingled  with  despair. 

II.   2. 

Unite,  thou  sacred  Theban  wall. 
And  fountain  famed  from  Dirce's  fall, 

To  witness  with  what  might 
Resistless  Cytherea  came, 
Brandishing  ethereal  flame ; 

To  everlasting  night, 
She,  beauteous  Semele  consigned. 
Who  to  Jove  Lyaeus  bore  : 
Her  breath's  a  pestilential  wind, 
Our  heads  she  like  the  bee  still  hovers  o'er. 

Ph^.  Restr.iin  your  tongues  :  we,  O  my  friends,  are 

Chor.  O  Phaedra,  say  what  terrible  event 
In  thy  abode  hath  happened .'' 

PH/E.  Not  a  word 

Must  now  be  uttered  :  I  would  hear  these  sounds 
Which  issue  from  the  palace. 

Chor.  We  are  silent : 

Yet  must  this  prelude  sure  denote  some  ill. 

HIP  POL  YTUS.  289 

PHiE.  Wretch  that  I  am  !    How  dreadful  are  my  woes  ! 

Chor.  What  shrieks,  aias  !  are  these — what  clamorous 
By  thee  now  uttered  ?     Speak,  my  hapless  queen, 
What  sudden  rumour  terrifies  thy  soul? 

Ph^.  We  are  undone,  but  stand  ye  at  these  doors 
And  listen  to  the  uproar  raised  within. 

Chor.  Thou  to  those  portals  art  already  close, 
And  in  the  voice  which  issues  from  the  palace 
Hast  a  great  interest,  therefore  say  what  ill 
Hath  happened. 

PHyE.  Stern  Hippolytus,  the  son 

Of  that  intrepid  Amazonian  dame. 
In  loudest  tone  full  many  a  horrid  curse 
Is  uttering  'gainst  my  servant. 

Chor.  A  mere  noise 

Is  all  I  hear,  yet  cannot  I  collect 
A  single  word  distinctly  :  passing  through 
These  doors  their  sound  hath  surely  reached  thine  ear. 

PH/E.  He  plainly  calls  her  harbinger  of  vice, 
And  the  betrayer  of  her  sovereign's  bed. 

Chor.  Wretch  that  I  am !     Thou,  O  my  dearest  queen. 
Hast  been  betrayed.     What  counsel  can  I  give  ? 
The  mystery  is  laid  open ;  thou  art  ruined — 
Utterly  ruined. 

Ph^.  Ah ! 

Chor.  Thy  friends  have  proved 

Unfaithful  to  their  trust. 

PH/E.  To  her  I  owe 

My  ruin,  who,  though  prompted  by  her  love, 
Unwisely  my  calamity  disclosed, 
Hoping  the  desperate  malady  to  neal. 

Chor.  What  part,  alas  !  remains  for  thee  to  act, 
Surrounded  by  inevitable  mischiefs  ? 

Ph/E.  But  one  expedient  for  my  present  ills 
I  know  ;  their  only  cure  is  instant  death. 

Hippolytus,  Nurse,  Ph^dr.a.,  Chorus. 
Hip.  Earth,  mother  of  us  all,  and  sun,  whose  beams 


Diffuse  their  splendour  wide,  what  words,  unfit 
For  any  tongue  to  utter,  reached  these  ears  ! 

NUR.  Peace,  O  my  son,  lest  some  one  hear  thy  voice. 

Hip.  I  cannot  bury  such  atrocious  crimes 
As  these  in  silence. 

NUR.  By  that  fair  right  hand, 

Thee  I  implore. 

Hip.  Profane  not  by  your  touch 

My  garment. 

NuR.  Grovelling  at  thy  knees,  I  crave 

Thou  wouldst  not  ruin  me. 

Hip.  Why  wish  to  check 

My  tongue,  if  you,  as  you  pretend,  have  said 
Nought  that  is  blamable  ? 

NuR.  Yet  must  my  words 

On  no  account  be  published 

Hip.  To  the  world 

What's  virtuous  may  with  honour  be  revealed. 

NUR.  Forget  not  thus  the  reverence,  O  my  son, 
Due  to  a  solemn  oath. 

Hip.  Although  my  tongue 

Hath  sworn,  my  soul  is  from  the  compact  free. 

NUR.  O  thou  rash  youth,  what  mean'st  thou  ?  Art  thou 
On  the  destruction  of  thy  friends  ? 

Hip.  I  hold 

The  friendships  of  the  wicked  in  abhorrence. 

NUR.  Forgive  me :  error  is  the  lot  of  man. 

Hip.  By  a  fair  semblance  to  deceive  the  world, 
Wherefore,  O  Jove,  beneath  the  solar  beams 
That  evil,  woman,  didst  thou  cause  to  dwell  .-* 
For  if  it  was  thy  will  the  human  race 
Should  multiply,  this  ought  not  by  such  means 
To  be  effected  :  better  in  thy  fane 
Each  votary,  on  presenting  brass  or  steel. 
Or  massive  ingots  of  resplendent  gold. 
Proportioned  to  his  offering,  might  from  thee 
Obtain  a  race  of  sons,  and  under  roofs 
Which  genuine  freedom  visits,  unannoyed 


By  women,  live.     But  to  receive  this  worst 

Of  evils,  now  no  sooner  are  our  doors 

Thrown  open  than  the  riches  of  our  house 

We  utterly  exhaust.     How  great  a  pest 

Is  woman  this  one  circumstance  displays  ; 

The  very  father  who  begot  and  nurtured, 

A  plenteous  dower  advancing,  sends  her  forth, 

That  of  such  loathed  incumbrance  he  may  rid 

His  mansions  :  but  the  hapless  youth,  who  takes 

Tliis  noxious  inmate  to  his  bed,  exults 

While  he  caparisons  a  worthless  image, 

In  gorgeous  ornaments  and  tissued  vests 

Squandering  his  substance.     With  some  noble  race 

He  who  by  wedlock  a  connection  forms 

Is  bound  by  hard  necessity  to  keep 

The  loathsome  consort ;  if  perchance  he  gain 

One  who  is  virtuous  sprung  from  worthless  sires, 

He  by  the  good  compensates  for  the  ills 

Attending  such  a  union.     Happier  he, 

Unvexed  by  these  embarrassments,  whose  bride 

Inactive  through  simplicity,  and  mild, 

To  his  abode  is  like  a  statue  fixed. 

All  female  wisdom  doth  my  soul  abhor. 

Never  may  the  aspiring  dame,  who  grasps 

At  knowing  more  than  to  her  sex  belongs, 

Enter  my  house  :  for  in  the  subtle  breast 

Are  deeper  stratagems  by  Venus  sown  : 

But  she  whose  reason  is  too  weak  to  frame 

A  plot,  from  amorous  frailties  lives  secure. 

No  female  servant  ever  should  attend 

The  married  dame,  she  rather  ought  to  dwell 

Among  wild  beasts,  who  are  by  nature  mute. 

Lest  she  should  speak  to  any,  or  receive 

Their  answers.     But  the  wicked  now  devise 

Mischief  in  secret  chambers,  while  abroad 

Their  confidants  promote  it  :  thus,  vile  wretch, 

In  privacy  you  came,  with  me  to  form 

An  impious  treaty  for  surrendering  up 

My  royal  father's  unpolluted  bed. 



Sooa  from  such  horrors  in  the  limpid  spring 

My  ears  will  I  make  pure :  how  could  I  nish 

Into  the  crime  itself,  when,  having  heard 

Only  the  name  made  mention  of,  I  feel 

As  though  I  some  defilement  thence  had  caught? 

Base  woman,  know  'tis  my  religion  saves 

Your  forfeit  life,  for  by  a  solemn  oath 

If  to  the  gods  I  had  not  unawares 

Engaged  myself,  I  ne'er  would  have  refrained 

From  stating  these  transactions  to  my  sire  ; 

But  now,  while  Theseus  in  a  foreign  land 

Continues,  hence  will  I  depart,  and  keep 

The  strictest  silence.     But  I  soon  shall  see. 

When  with  my  injured  father  I  return, 

How  you  and  your  perfidious  queen  will  dare 

To  meet  his  eyes,  then  fully  shall  I  know 

Your  impudence,  of  which  I  now  have  made 

This  first  essay.    Perdition  seize  you  both  : 

For  with  unsatiated  abhorrence,  still 

'Gainst  woman  will  I  speak,  though  some  object 

To  my  repeating  always  the  same  charge  : 

For  they  are  ever  uniformly  wicked : 

Let  any  one  then  prove  the  female  sex 

Possest  of  chastity,  or  suffer  me. 

As  heretofore,  against  them  to  inveigh. 

{Exit  Hn'i'OLYTUS. 

O  wretched  woman's  inauspicious  fate  I 

What  arts,  what  projects  can  we  find. 
To  extricate  ourselves,  ere  yet  too  late, 
From  our  distress,  or  how  the  snare  unbind  ? 
Ph^.  Just  are  the  sufferings  I  endure  : 

Thou  earth  and  sun,  my  anguish  cure. 
How,  O  my  friends,  shall  I  avoid 
The  stroke  of  fate  before  I  am  destroyed  ? 
Or  how  conceal 
The  pangs  I  feel  1 


What  tutelary  god  is  near, 

What  friendly  mortal  will  appear 

To  aid  me  in  this  hour  of  shame  ? 

Afflictions  and  an  evil  name 

The  remnant  of  my  life  must  vex  : 
I  now  am  the  most  wretched  of  my  sex. 
Chor.  Alas  !  all  now  is  over ;  O  my  queen. 
The  stratagems  thy  hapless  servant  framed 
Fail  of  success,  and  desperate  are  thy  fortunes. 
Ph;e.  O  villanous  destroyer  of  your  friends, 
How  have  you  ruined  me  !    May  Jove  my  grandsire 
Uproot  you  in  his  vengeance  from  the  earth, 
And  smite  with  thunderbolts  that  perjured  head. 
When  I  your  baleful  stratagems  foresaw, 
How  oft  did  I  enjoin  you  to  conceal 
That  fatal  truth,  from  whose  discovery  spring 
The  torments  I  endure  :  but  you  the  secret 
Contained  not,  hence  with  an  unspotted  fame 
I  cannot  die,  but  some  fresh  scheme  must  forge. 
For  this  rash  youth,  his  soul  with  anger  fired. 
Will  to  his  father  my  offence  relate, 
Inform  the  aged  Pittheus  of  my  woes. 
And  with  this  history,  to  my  foul  reproach, 
Fill  the  whole  world.     May  just  perdition  seize 
Both  you  and  all  who  by  dishonest  means 
Their  unconsenting  friends  are  prompt  to  aid. 

NuR.  Thou,  O  my  royal  mistress,  mayst  condemn 
The  fault  I  have  committed :  for  thy  griefs 
Are  so  severe  that  they  awhile  o'ercome 
Thy  better  judgment.     But  wouldst  thou  admit 
My  answer,  I  could  make  one ;  thee  I  nurtured, 
And  in  thy  happiness  an  interest  feel. 
But  seai'ching  for  a  medicine  to  remove 
Thy  sickness,  what  I  least  could  wish  I  found. 
Success  had  stamped  me  wise  :  for  by  events 
Are  our  opinions  influenced. 

Ph^.  Is  it  just, 

And  satisfactory,  thus  first  to  wound, 
And  then  dispute  with  me  ? 

29  ^  EURIPIDES. 

NUR,  We  dwell  too  long 

On  this  unhappy  subject :  I  confess 
My  folly  :  but,  O  daugliter,  there  are  means 
To  extricate  thee  still  from  all  thy  woes. 

Ph/E.  End  this  harangue ;  you  counselled  me  amiss 
At  first,  and  undertook  a  vile  design. 
Go  mind  your  own  affairs  :  be  mine  the  task, 
What  interests  me,  to  settle  as  I  ought.  [Exit  NURSE. 

But,  O  my  noble  friends,  Troczenian  dames. 
Thus  far  indulgent  to  my  earnest  prayer, 
In  silence  bury  what  you  here  have  heard. 

Chor.  I  call,  Diana,  venerable  daughter 
Of  Jove,  to  witness  I  will  ne'er  reveal 
Aught  of  thy  sorrows. 

PHvE.  Ye  have  spoken  well. 

But  after  weighing  all  things  in  my  mind, 
I  one  expedient  have  at  length  devised 
In  this  calamity,  which  may  secure 
To  my  loved  sons  an  honourable  life, 
And  to  myself,  encompassed  by  such  woes 
As  now  befall  me,  some  relief  afford. 
For  I  will  never  scandalize  the  house 
Of  Crete,  nor  come,  after  so  base  a  deed, 
Into  the  presence  of  offended  Theseus, 
To  save  one  single  life. 

Chor.  Art  thou  tiien  bent 

On  mischief  such  as  cannot  be  recalled  ? 

Ph^.  To  die  is  my  resolve :  but  by  what  means 
1  must  deliberate. 

Chor.  More  auspicious  words 

Than  these  I  crave. 

PHit.  All  I  from  you  expect 

Is  wholesome  counsel.     For  the  Cyprian  queen, 
To  whom  I  owe  my  ruin,  I  this  day 
Shall  gratify,  thus  yielding  up  my  life, 
Vanquished  by  ruthless  love.     But  after  death 
I  to  another  shall  become  a  curse  ; 
Hence  shall  he  learn  no  longer  to  exult 
In  my  disastrous  fortunes,  but  acquire 
Discretion,  while  my  anguish  he  partakes.  [^Exil  Ph^dra. 

HIPPO  L  YTUS.  295 



I.  r. 

To  where  yon  rock  o'erhangs  the  main 

Waft  me,  ye  gods,  thence  bid  me  spring, 
Transformed  into  a  bird,  on  vigorous  wing 
Through  trackless  ether  mid  the  feathered  train  : 

With  rapid  pinions  would  I  soar 
On  high  above  the  Adriatic  shore, 

And  Po's  impetuous  stream, 

Fixed  on  whose  banks  that  virgin  choir, 

Who  spring  from  an  immortal  sire, 

Intent  on  the  same  dolorous  theme. 
Still  weep  for  Phaeton's  untimely  end. 
While  'midst  the  purple  tide  their  amber  tears  descend. 

II.  2. 

On  to  those  coasts  would  I  proceed 
Where  the  Hesperides  their  song 

Attune  ;  no  mariner  can  thence  prolong 

The  voyage,  for,  his  daring  bark  t'  impede, 

Neptune  those  hallowed  bounds  maintains, 

W^here  Atlas  with  unwearied  toil  sustains 
The  heavens'  incumbent  load  ; 
And  from  a  never-failing  spring 
Ambrosia's  streams  their  tribute  bring, 
Watering  those  chambers,  Jove's  abode  : 

There  the  glad  soil  its  choicest  gifts  supplies 
Obedient  to  the  reign  of  happy  deities. 

II.  I. 

Across  yon  hoarse  resounding  main, 

O  bark  of  Crete,  those  hastier  gales. 
Which  caught  the  snowy  canvas  of  thy  sails. 
Conveyed  my  mistress,  but  conveyed  in  vain  ; 

By  fate  from  prosperous  mansions  torn, 
To  nuptial  rites  unhallowed  was  she  borne. 
And  scenes  of  future  shame  : 

For  surely  from  her  native  land. 


To  the  renowned  Athenian  strand, 
She  with  a  luckless  omen  came  ; 
Though,  to  the  shore  their  twisted  cables  bound, 
With  joy  the  sailors  leaped  on  fair  Munychia's  ground. 

II.   2, 

Her  strength  in  lingering  sickness  spent, 
Hence  is  she  ordained  to  prove 

How  great  the  tortures  of  unlawful  love, 

By  the  command  of  angry  Venus  sent. 
And  after  struggling  long  in  vain, 

Defeated  by  intolerable  pain, 

Her  snowy  neck  around, 
To  bind  that  galling  noose,  resolves. 
Which  from  her  bridal  roofs  devolves. 
Awed  by  the  heaven-inflicted  wound  : 

Choosing  to  perish  thus  with  glory  blest, 
She,  cruel  love  expels,  the  soul's  tyrannic  pest. 

Messenger,  Chorus. 

Mes.  Ho  !  ho  !     All  ye  who  near  the  palace  stand, 
With  speed  come  hither  ;  by  the  fatal  cord, 
Our  queen,  the  wife  of  Theseus,  is  destroyed. 

Chor.  The  deed,  alas  !  is  done.     My  royal  mistress 
Suspended  in  the  noose  is  now  no  more. 

Mes.  Why  are  ye  not  more  swift  }    Will  no  one  bring 
The  sharpened  steel,  that,  with  its  aid,  this  instant 
The  bandage  we  may  sever  from  her  neck  ? 

I  St  Semichor.  What  shall  we  do  ?    Were  it  not  best^  my 
To  rush  into  the  palace,  and  our  queen 
Loose  from  the  knot  which  her  own  hands  have  tied  ? 

2nd  Semichor.  Butwhydo  the  young  servants,inthishour 
Of  woe,  absent  themselves  ?    To  be  too  busy 
Is  never  safe. 

Mes.  Extend  the  hapless  body ; 

Unwelcome  office  to  the  lords  I  serve.   [Exit  MESSENGER. 

Chor.  From  what  I  hear,  this  miserable  dame 
Hath  left  the  world  :  for  they  are  stretching  forth 
Her  corse  as  one  who  is  already  dead. 


Theseus,  Chorus. 

The.  O  woman,  know  ve  what  loud  voice  is  that 
Within  the  palace?     From  the  menial  train 
Of  damsels,  shrieks  most  grievous  reached  my  ear. 
None  of  my  household,  opening  wide  the  gates, 
Deign  to  receive  me  with  auspicious  words 
On  my  return  from  the  prophetic  shrine. 
Hath  aught  befall'n  the  venerable  Pittheus  ? 
What  though  he  be  already  far  advanced 
Into  the  vale  of  years,  yet  would  his  death 
These  mansions  with  a  general  sorrow  till. 

Chor.  Fate  in  its  march,  O  Theseus,  hath  not  pierced 
The  aged  :  they  who  in  the  bloom  of  youth 
Are  now  cut  off  your  sorrows  will  demand. 

The.  Ah  me  !     Hath  cruel  death  then  torn  away 
One  of  my  sons  .'' 

Chor.  They  live,  while  breathless  lies 

Their  mother  ;  and  most  piteous  was  her  end. 

The.  What  saidst  thou  ?     Is  my  dearest  Phaedra  dead  "i 
Through  what  mischance  ? 

Chor.  She  tied  the  fatal  noose. 

The.  Had  grief  congealed  her  blood  1    Or  was  she 
To  this  by  some  calamitous  event  ? 

Chor.  .We  only  know  the  fact  :  for  to  the  palace 
Am  I  just  come,  O  Theseus,  that  with  yours 
My  sorrows  I  may  mingle. 

The.  Round  these  brows 

Why  do  I  wear  a  garland,  but  to  show 
That  I  the  oracle  in  luckless  hour 
Have  visited .'    Unbar  those  doors,  my  servants. 
Open  them  wide,  that  I  the  wretched  corse 
Of  my  dear  wife  may  view,  who  by  her  death 
Hath  ruined  mc. 

[The palace  doors  are  opened,  and  tlie  body  of  Ph^dra 
is  discovered,  with  a  veil  tJuown  over  il.] 

Chor.  Thy  woes,  unhappy  queen. 

Were  dreadful ;  yet  thou  such  a  deed  hast  wrought 


As  in  confusion  this  whole  house  will  plunge  : 
Presumptuous,  violent,  unnatural  death 
By  thine  own  hand  inflicted :  for,  ah  !  who — 
Who  but  thyself  was  author  of  thy  fall  ? 
The.   Wretch  that  I  am  !      How  many  and  how 
Are  my  afflictions  ?     But  of  all  the  ills 
Which  I  have  felt,  this  last  is  most  severe. 
Me  and  these  mansions  with  what  terrors  armed, 
O  fortune,  dost  thou  visit  I     From  some  fiend 
This  unforeseen  dishonour  takes  its  rise. 
A  life  like  mine  is  not  to  be  endured. 
And  worse  than  death  itself:  for  I  so  vast 
An  ocean  of  calamity  behold, 
That  I  can  never  hope  to  swim  to  land, 
Or  stem  these  overwhelming  waves  of  woe. 
Thee  how  shall  I  accost,  or  in  what  terms 
Sufficiently  deplore  thy  wretched  fate  .'' 
Swift  as  a  bird  'scaped  from  the  fowler's  hand 
Hence  hast  thou  vanished  with  impetuous  flight, 
To  the  domains  of  sullen  Pluto  borne. 
Grievous,  alas  !  most  grievous  are  these  woes. 
But  from  some  ancient  stores  of  wrath,  reserved 
By  vengeful  Heaven  to  punish  the  misdeeds 
Of  a  progenitor,  I  sure  derive 
This  great  calamity. 

Chor.  Not  you  alone 

Have  such  afflictions  visited,  O  king ; 
You  but  in  common  with  a  thousand  mourners 
Have  lost  the  noble  partner  of  your  bed. 

The.  Under  earth's  deepest  caverns  would  I  dwell, 
Amid  the  shades  of  everlasting  night, 
A  wretch  best  numbered  with  the  silent  dead, 
Now  I,  alas  !  for  ever  am  bereft 
Of  thy  loved  converse  ;  for  thou  hast  destroyed 
Me  rather  than  thyself.     Who  will  inform  me 
Whence  death,  with  ruthless  destiny  combined, 
Thy  vitals  reached  ?     Can  any  one  disclose 
The  real  fact ;  or  doth  this  palace  harbour 
A  menial  swarm  in  vain  ?    For  thee,  for  thee, 


Alas,  I  grieve  !     What  sorrows  of  my  house, 
Too  great  to  be  supported  or  expressed, 
Are  these  which  I  have  witnessed  !     But  I  perish  ; 
These  mansions  are  a  desert,  and  my  sons 
Have  lost  their  mother. 

Chor.  Thou  hast  left,  hast  left 

Thy  friends,  thou  dearest  and  thou  best  of  women, 
Whom  the  resplendent  sun  or  glimmering  moon 
E'er  visited  in  her  nocturnal  round. 
O  my  unhappy,  my  unhappy  queen ! 
This  house  what  dreadful  evils  have  befallen  ! 
Thy  fate  bedews  these  swimming  eyes  with  tears  ; 
But,  shuddering,  to  the  sequel  of  our  woes 
Already  I  look  forward. 

The.  Ha  !  what  means 

The  letter  which  she  clasps  in  her  dear  hand, 
What  fresh  intelligence  can  it  contain  ? 
Hath  the  deceased  here  written  a  request 
For  aught  that  to  the  marriage  bed  pertains, 
And  her  sons'  welfare  .?     Thou  pale  shade,  rely 
On  this  assurance,  that  no  other  dame 
The  widowed  couch  of  Theseus  shall  ascend. 
Or  enter  these  abodes.     Yet  with  such  force 
These  well-known  characters  the  golden  ring 
Of  her  who  is  no  more  hath  here  impressed 
Allure  me,  that  the  seal  I  will  burst  open, 
And  learn  what  charge  to  me  she  would  convey. 

Chor.  Some  god,  alas  !  hath  in  succession  her^ped 
Evil  on  evil :  such  my  fate,  that  life 
Will  be  no  longer  any  life  to  me 
After  this  deed  of  horror.     I  pronounce 
The  house  of  my  devoted  kings  o'erthrown, 
And  now  no  more  a  house.     Yet,  O  ye  god?. 
This  family,  if  possible  forbear 
To  crush,  and  listen  to  my  fervent  vow. 
Yet,  like  the  soothsayer,  my  foreboding  soul 
An  evil  omen  views. 

The.  To  my  past  woes. 

What  woes,  alas  !  are  added,  far  too  great 
To  be  endured  or  uttered  !     Wretched  me  I 


Chor.  What  fresh  event  is  this  ?    Speak,  if  the  secret 
To  me  you  can  disclose. 

The.  With  loudest  voice, 

The  letter  echoes  such  atrocious  crimes 
As  are  not  to  be  borne.     To  'scape  this  load 
Of  misery,  whither,  whither  shall  I  fly  ? 
For  I,  alas  !  am  utterly  undone. 
What  strains  of  horror  have  these  wretched  eyes 
Beheld,  in  that  portentous  scroll  expressed  ! 

Chor.  All  that  is  terrible  your  words  announce. 

The.  Within  the  door  of  my  indignant  lips 
No  longer  thus  will  I  contain  a  deed 
Of  unexampled  guilt.     O  city,  city  ! 
Hippolytus  with  brutal  force  hath  dared 
To  violate  my  bed,  and  set  at  nought 
Jove's  awful  eye.     O  Neptune,  O  my  sire, 
Since  thou  hast  firmly  promised  that  thou  thrice 
Wouldst  grant  me  what  I  prayed  for  ;  now  fulfil 
One  vow,  and  slay  my  son,  nor  let  him  'scape 
This  single  day,  if  thou  with  me  design 
To  ratify  the  compact  thou  hast  made. 

Chor.  Recall  that  imprecation  to  the  gods  : 
For  you,  O  king,  your  error  will  perceive ; 
Attend  to  my  advice. 

The.  These  ears  are  closed  : 

Moreover  I  will  drive  him  from  the  land  ; 
For  of  these  twofold  fates,  or  this  or  that 
Must  smite  him  ;  Neptune,  when  he  hears  my  curses, 
Will  plunge  the  miscreant  to  the  shades  of  hell ; 
Else,  cast  forth  from  this  region,  and  ordained 
To  wander  in  some  foreign  land,  a  life 
Of  the  profoundest  misery  shall  he  drag. 

Chor.  Behold  how  seasonably  your  son  himself, 
Hippolytus,  is  coming  :  O  subdue, 
My  royal  lord,  subdue  that  baleful  rage ; 
Consult  the  good  of  your  unhappy  house. 

Hippolytus,  Theseus,  Chorus. 
Hip.  Hearing  your  voice,  I  with  the  utmost  speed 
Am  hither  come,  O  father ;  though  whence  rise 

HIPPOL  YTUS.  30 1 

These  groans  I  know  not,  and  from  you  would  learn. 
Ha  !  what  is  here  ?     Your  consort,  O  my  sire, 
I  see,  a  breathless  cor3e  :  this  needs  must  cause 
The  greatest  wonder.     Since  I  left  her  living 
How  short  the  intervening  space  !     But  now 
She  oped  those  eyes  to  view  the  radiant  sun. 
What  dire  mischance  befell  her,  in  what  manner 
She  died,  inform  me.     Are  you  silent  still  ? 
In  our  calamities  of  no  avail 
Is  silence  :  for  solicitous  to  know 
All  that  hath  passed,  with  greediness  the  heart 
Explores  a  tale  of  woe ;  nor  is  it  just, 
My  father,  your  afflictions  to  conceal 
From  friends,  and  those  who  are  yet  more  than 

The.  O  mortals,  why,  unprofitably  lost 
In  many  errors,  strive  ye  to  attain 
A  thousand  specious  arts,  some  new  device 
Still  meditating,  yet  ye  neither  know 
One  rare  attainment,  nor  by  your  inquiries 
Could  ever  reach  the  gift  of  teaching  those 
Who  lack  discretion  how  to  think  aright  1 

Hip.  The  sage  you  speak  of,  he  who  could  compel 
Fools  to  grow  wise,  must  be  expert  indeed. 
But  since  the  subtle  arguments  you  use 
Are  so  ill-timed,  my  sire,  I  greatly  fear 
Your  woes  should  cause  your  tongue  to  go  beyond 
The  bounds  of  reason. 

The.  With  some  clearer  test 

Man  ought  to  have  been  furnished,  to  discern 
The  thoughts  and  sever  from  the  real  friend 
Each  vile  impostor.     All  the  human  race 
Should  have  two  voices — one  of  sacred  truth. 
No  matter  what  the  other  :  'gainst  each  plot 
Devised  by  foul  injustice,  hence  the  first 
Might  in  perpetual  evidence  come  forth, 
And  none  could  be  deceived. 

Hip.  Hath  any  friend 

Accused  me  in  your  ear,  and  fixed  reproach 
Upon  the  guiltless  ?     I  with  dire  amaze 

3oi  EV RIP  WES. 

Am  smitten  :  in  such  incoherent  words 

Your  rage  bursts  forth  that  horror  fills  my  soul. 

The.  Ah,  whither  will  the  mind  of  man  proceed 
In  its  career  ?     Can  nature  fix  no  bounds 
To  impudence  ?    For  if  this  evil  take 
Still  deeper  root  through  each  succeeding  age, 
The  son  grown  more  abandoned  than  the  father, 
In  pity  to  this  world  the  gods  should  add 
Another  world  sufficient  to  contain 
All  those  who  swerve  from  justice  and  the  brood 
Of  sinners.     Look  upon  that  impious  wretch. 
Though  spnmg  from  my  own  loins,  who  hath  defiled 
My  nuptial  couch ;  too  clearly  the  deceased 
His  most  atrocious  villany  hath  proved. 
Show  then  thy  face  before  thy  injured  sire, 
Since  to  this  pitch  of  unexampled  guilt 
Thou  hast  proceeded.     Yet  art  thou  the  man 
Who  holds  familiar  converse  with  the  gods 
As  though  his  life  were  perfect  ?    Art  thou  chaste 
And  pure  from  all  defilement  .-*    By  thy  boasts 
I  will  not  be  deluded,  nor  suspect 
Thou  canst  impose  upon  the  powers  divine. 
Now  glory  in  thy  vegetable  food. 
Disciple  of  the  tuneful  Orpheus,  rave 
With  Bacchus'  frantic  choir,  and  let  the  fumes 
Of  varied  learning  soothe  thee.    Thou  art  caught. 
From  me  let  all  take  warning,  and  avoid 
Those  artful  hypocrites  who  bait  the  snare 
With  words  denoting  great  austerity. 
While  they  contrive  base  projects.     She  is  dead. 
And  so  thou  deem'st  thyself  secure  ;  yet  hence 
Thy  guilt,  O  miscreant,  is  more  clearly  proved. 
What  weightier  oath,  what  plea  canst  thou  devise 
This  letter  to  confute,  that  thou  mayst  'scape 
Unpunished  for  thy  crime  ?    Wilt  thou  allege 
She  hated  thee,  and  that  thy  spurious  birth 
Makes  the  legitimate  thy  foes  1    'Twill  argue 
That  she  was  prodigal  of  life,  if  thus 
She  forfeited  whate'er  her  soul  held  dear 

HippoL  vrus.  303 

Through  enmity  to  thee.     But  man  behke 

Is  privileged  from  lust,  whose  power  innate 

Misleads  frail  woman.     Well  am  I  aware 

Both  male  and  female  are  alike  exposed 

To  danger,  oft  as  Cytherea  fires 

The  youthful  heart,  although  a  partial  world 

Forbear  to  brand  our  sex  with  equal  shame. 

But  wherefore  in  an  idle  strife  of  words 

With  thee  should  I  engage,  when  here,  the  corse, 

That  witness  most  irrefragable,  lies  ? 

With  speed  an  exile  from  this  land  depart, 

Nor  dare  to  enter  Athens  by  the  gods 

Erected,  or  the  bounds  of  my  domain. 

For  if  from  thee  I  tamely  should  submit 

To  wrongs  like  these,  no  more  would  Sinnis  tell 

How  erst  I  slew  him  at  the  Isthmian  pass, 

But  say  my  boasts  are  vain  ;  nor  would  the  rocks 

Of  Schiron,  dashed  by  the  surrounding  waves, 

Call  me  the  scourge  of  villains. 

Chor.  At  a  loss 

Am  I  of  any  mortal  how  to  speak 
As  truly  happy :  for  their  lot  who  once 
Were  blest  hath  undergone  a  total  change. 

Hip.  Though  dreadful,  O  my  father,  is  the  wrath 
And  vehement  commotion  of  your  soul. 
The  charge  against  me  which  now  seems  so  strong, 
If  duly  searched  into,  will  prove  devoid 
Of  truth  and  honour.     I  am  not  expert 
At  an  harangue  before  assembled  crowds, 
Though  somewhat  better  qualified  to  speak 
Among  my  youthful  comrades,  and  where  few 
Are  present  :  a  sufficient  cause  for  this 
May  be  assigned  ;  for  they  who  are  held  cheap 
Among  the  wise,  in  more  harmonious  strains 
Address  the  people.     Yet  am  I  constrained 
By  the  severe  emergency  to  burst 
The  bonds  of  silence,  and  begin  my  speech 
With  a  discussion  of  that  odious  charge 
By  you  first  urged  against  me,  to  convict 


And  bar  me  from  replying.     Do  your  eyes 

Behold  the  sun  and  wide  extent  of  earth  ? 

Say,  what  you  list ;  of  all  the  numerous  tribes 

Who  here  were  born,  there's  not  a  man  more  chaste 

Than  I  am :  the  first  knowledge  I  acquired 

Was  this — to  reverence  the  immortal  gods, 

And  with  those  friends  associate  who  attempt 

Nought  by  the  laws  condemned,  but  are  endued 

With  a  deep  sense  of  virtuous  shame,  and  scorn 

Either  themselves  to  practise  or  to  aid 

Unseemly  actions.     I  ne'er  made  a  jest 

Of  those  whom  I  converse  with,  O  my  sire. 

But  to  my  friends  have  still  remained  the  same 

When  they  are  absent  as  when  near  at  hand : 

And  above  all,  by  that  peculiar  crime 

In  which  you  think  that  you  have  caught  me  now, 

Am  I  untainted  :  by  impure  delight 

I  to  this  day  have  never  been  enticed. 

Of  love  and  its  transactions  nought  I  know, 

Except  what  I  from  casual  talk  have  heard 

Or  seen  in  pictures,  but  I  am  not  eager 

To  look  on  these,  for  still  my  soul  retains 

Its  virgin  purity.     But  if  no  credence 

My  spotless  chastity  with  you  should  find, 

On  you  is  it  incumbent  to  show  how 

I  was  corrupted.     Did  your  consort's  charms 

Eclipse  all  other  women  ?     Could  I  hope 

Beneath  your  roofs  to  dwell,  and  with  your  wife 

That  I  the  rich  inheritance  should  gain  ? 

This  sure  had  been  the  highest  pitch  of  folly. 

But  what  a  bait  is  empire  !     None  at  all 

To  those  who  are  discreet,  unless  a  lust 

For  kingly  power  already  hath  corrupted 

Those  who  delight  in  it      O'er  all  the  sons 

Of  Greece,  in  every  honourable  strife, 

Is  it  my  great  ambition  to  prevail, 

And  be  the  first ;  but  rather  in  the  state 

Would  I  live  happy  with  my  dearest  friends, 

And  occupy  the  second  rank  :  for  bliss 


Exempt  from  every  danger,  there  is  found, 
Transcending  all  that  royalty  can  give. 
One  thing  there  is  by  me  not  mentioned  yet  : 
Though  all  beside  already  have  you  heard.     - 
Had  I  a  single  witness  like  myself, 
Of  tried  veracity,  and  could  debate 
With  her  while  yet  she  lived,  you  from  the  fact. 
After  a  strict  inquiry,  might  decide 
Which  was  the  criminal.     But  now,  by  Jove, 
Who  guards  the  oath  inviolate,  I  swear, 
And  by  the  conscious  ground  on  which  we  tread. 
That  I  your  consort  never  did  approach- 
No,  not  in  will  or  deed.     May  I  expire 
Stript  of  renown,  and  overwhelmed  with  shame. 
Torn  from  my  country,  my  paternal  house, 
An  exile  and  a  vagrant  through  the  world, 
Nor  may  the  ocean  or  the  earth  receive 
My  breathless  corse,  if  I  have  thus  transgressed  ! 
I  know  not  whether  'twas  through  fear  she  lost 
Her  life,  and  more  than  this  I  must  not  say. 
With  her  discretion  amply  hath  supplied 
The  place  of  chastity  ;  I  still  have  practised 
That  virtue,  but,  alas  !  without  success. 

Chor.  Sufficient  is  it  to  refute  the  charge 
That  thou  this  oath  hast  taken,  and  called  down 
The  powers  immortal  to  attest  its  truth. 

The.  Is  he  not  rather  an  audacious  cheat, 
Trusting  in  magic  arts,  who  dares  to  think 
He  by  an  oath  can  bias  the  resolves 
Of  his  insulted  sire  .'' 

Hip.  The  part  you  act 

Challenges  my  astonishment.     Were  you 
IMy  son,  and  I  your  father,  had  you  dared 
To  violate  my  wife,  I  would  not  banish, 
But  kill  you. 

The.  Seasonable  remark  :  the  sentence 

WJiich  on  thyself  with  justice  thou  hast  passed 
I  will  not  now  inflict ;  for  instant  death 
Is  grateful  to  the  wretched.     But  ordained 


An  exile  from  thy  native  land  to  roam, 
A  life  of  tedious  sorrow  shalt  thou  drag 
In  foreign  realms ;  such  are  the  wages  due 
To  an  unrighteous  man. 

Hip.  What  means  my  sire  ? 

Instead  of  waiting  till  impartial  time 
The  merits  of  my  conduct  ascertain, 
Hence  will  you  banish  me  ? 

The.  Had  I  the  power, 

Be\  ond  the  ocean,  and  where  Atlas  stands 
Upon  the  utmost  limits  of  the  world, 
So  strong  the  hatred  which  to  thee  I  bear — 

Hip.  What,  without  searching  into  any  proof 
From  oath,  or  witness,  or  the  voice  of  seers, 
Expel  me  uncondemned  from  these  domains  1 

The.  This  letter,  which  no  soothsayer  can  require 
To  make  it  better  understood,  the  charge 
'Gainst  thee  authenticates  ;  so  to  those  birds 
Who  hover  o'er  our  heads  I  bid  adieu. 

Hip.  Why  I  am  not  permitted,  O  ye  gods, 
To  ope  my  mouth,  when  I  my  ruin  owe 
To  you  whom  I  adore  ?     I  will  not  speak  : 
For  he  I  ought  to  move  hath  'gainst  my  voice 
Closed  his  obdurate  ears  :  I  should  infringe 
A  solemn  oath,  and  sport  with  Heaven  in  vain. 

The.  To  me  past  all  endurance  is  that  mask 
Of  sanctity  which  thou  assum'st.  With  speed 
Why  go'st  thou  not  from  thy  paternal  land  ? 

Hip.  Whither  can  I  betake  myself?     What  friend 
Will  to  his  house  admit  an  exiled  wretch 
Charged  with  this  great  offence  ? 

The.  W'hoe'er  receives 

Each  base  invader  of  the  marriage  bed, 
And  with  the  wicked  man  delights  to  dwell. 

Hip.  What  wounds  my  soul,  and  from  these  eyes  exiorts 
The  tear,  is  your  believing  me  so  wicked. 

The.  There  was  a  proper  season  for  these  groans 
And  all  thy  forethought,  when  thou  to  dishonour 
The  consort  of  thy  father  didst  presume. 


Hip.  O  mansions,  would  to  Heaven  that  ye  a  voice 
Could  utter,  and  your  testimony  give, 
Whether  I  have  transgressed. 

The.  Hast  thou  recourse 

To  witnesses  who  lack  the  power  of  speech  ? 
Beyond  all  words  this  deed  thy  guilt  displays. 

Hip.  In  such  position  as  to  view  my  soul 

0  could  I  stand,  that  I  might  cease  to  weep 
For  the  calamities  I  now  endure  I 

The.  Thou  thine  own  merits  hast  much  more  been  wont 
To  reverence,  than  with  pious  awe  to  treat 
Thy  parents  as  thy  duty  doth  enjoin. 

Hip.  Unhappy  mother  !  wretched  son  !    Avert 
The  curse  which  on  a  spurious  race  attends, 
From  those  who  share  my  friendship,  righteous  gods  ! 

The.  Will  ye  not  drag  him  from  my  sight,  ye  slaves  ? 
Did  you  not  hear  how  I  long  since  decreed 
He  shall  be  banished  I 

Hip.  They  should  rue  it  soon, 

If  they  presumed  to  touch  me.     But  yourself 
May  from  these  realms  expel  me  if  you  list. 

The.  If  thou  obey  not  these  commands,  I  will : 
For  I  feel  no  compassion  for  thy  exile. 

[Exit  Theseus. 

Hip.  The  sentence  is,  it  seems,  already  passed; 
Wretch  that  I  am  !     My  doom  indeed  I  know, 
Yet  know  not  in  what  language  to  express 
The  pangs  I  feel.     O  thou  to  me  most  dear 
Of  all  the  gods,  Latona's  virgin  daughter, 
Who  dwell'st  with  me,  companion  of  the  chase. 
Far  from  illustrious  Athens  let  us  fly  ; 

1  to  that  city  and  Erectheus'  land 

Now  bid  farewell.     O  thou  Troezenian  realm, 
Fraught  with  each  varied  pleasure  youth  admires, 
Adieu  !  I  see  thee  now  for  the  last  time, 
And  these  last  parting  words  to  thee  address  : 
Come,  O  ye  youths,  my  comrades,  hither  come, 
Speak  kindly  to  me  now,  and  till  we  reach 
The  frontiers  of  this  country,  on  my  steps 


Attend.    For  ye  shall  ne'er  behold  a  man 
More  chaste,  though  such  I  seem  not  to  my  sire. 

[£>// HiProLvius. 


I.  I. 

When  I  reflect  on  Heaven's  just  sway, 

Each  anxious  thought  is  driven  away ; 
But,  ah  !  too  soon,  hope's  flattering  prospect  ends, 
And  in  this  harassed  soul  despair  succeeds, 

When  1  compare  with  human  deeds 
What  fate  those  deeds  attends. 

At  each  various  period  changing, 

Formed  upon  no  settled  plan, 

In  a  maze  of  errors  ranging, 

Veers  the  precarious  life  of  man. 

I.  2. 

May  the  kind  gods'  paternal  care. 

Attentive  to  their  votary's  prayer, 
Grant  unalloyed  prosperity  and  wealth, 
Let  me  enjoy,  without  conspicuous  fame. 

A  character  unstained  by  shame, 
With  mental  ease  and  health  : 

Thus  exempt  from  wrinkled  sorrow, 

Would  I  ape  the  circling  mode, 

Alter  my  conduct  with  the  morrow. 

And  snatch  each  pleasure  as  it  flowed. 

II.  I. 

Now  I  a  heart  no  longer  pure 
Against  the  shocks  of  fortune  can  secure, 
But  feel  at  length  e'en  hope  itself  expire  : 
Since  from  the  land  we  see  that  star,  whose  light 

On  Athens  shone  serenely  bright. 
Removed  by  Theseus'  ire. 
Lament,  thick  scattered  on  the  shore,  ye  sands, 

Where  Troezene's  city  stands. 

And  steep  mountains,  Avhich  ascending 


With  thy  hounds  to  trace  the  prey, 
Thou,  Hippolytus,  attending 
Dictynna,  the  swift  hind  didst  slay. 

II.  2. 

No  longer  the  Hennetian  steeds, 
Yoked  to  thy  chariot,  o'er  yon  sacred  meads 
Around  the  ring,  wilt  thou  expertly  guide. 
The  Muse,  whose  lyre  is  doomed  to  sound  no  more, 

Shall  the  paternal  house  deplore, 
Bereft  of  thee  its  pride. 
For  Dian's  haunts  beneath  th'  embowering  shade 

Now  no  hand  the  wreath  will  braid. 

Thou  art  from  this  region  banished, 

Hence  is  Hymen's  torch  decayed: 

All  prospects  of  thy  love  are  vanished, 

The  rivalry  of  many  a  maid. 

By  thy  calamity  inspired, 
With  plaintive  strains  will  I  bewail  thy  fate, 
O  wretched  mother,  who  in  vain 
The  throes  of  childbirth  didst  sustain. 

I  with  indignant  hate 
Against  the  gods  themselves  am  fired. 
Ah,  gentle  graces,  smiling  at  his  birth, 
Could  not  you  screen  by  your  benignant  power 
Your  guiltless  votary,  in  an  evil  hour 
.Sentenced  to  wander  far  from  his  paternal  earth  ? 

The  servant  of  Hippolytus,  with  looks 
Which  witness  grief,  I  see  in  haste  approach. 

Messenger,  Chorus. 

Mes.  Ye  matrons,  whither  shall  I  speed  my  course 
To  find  the  royal  Theseus  ?     If  ye  know, 
Inform  me ;  is  the  monarch  here  within  ? 

Chor.  Forth  from  the  palace  he  in  person  comes. 

Theseus,  Messenger,  Chorus. 
Mes.  O  Theseus,  the  intelligence  I  bring 
Deserves  the  serious  thoughts  of  you,  and  all 


The  citizens  who,  or  in  Athens  dwell, 
Or  on  the  borders  of  Trcezene's  land. 

The.  What  mean'st  thou  ?    Hath  some  recent  woe 
These  two  adjacent  cities  ? 

Mes.  In  one  word, 

To  sum  up  all,  Hippolytus  is  dead  ; 
For  he  but  for  a  moment  views  the  sun. 

The.  Say,  by  what  ho5tile  arm  the  miscreant  fell. 
Did  any  one,  whose  wife  with  brutal  force, 
As  late  his  fathei-'s,  he  defiled,  assail  him  ? 

Mes.  The  fiery  coursers  who  his  chariot  drew 
Destroyed  him,  and  the  curses  you  addressed 
To  the  stern  ruler  of  the  deep,  your  sire, 
Against  your  son. 

The.  Thanks,  O  ye  righteous  gods  ; 

Now,  Neptune,  hast  thou  proved  thyself  my  father. 
Since  thou  my  imprecations  hast  fulfilled. 
Inform  me  how  he  perished,  how  the  sword 
Of  justice  smote  the  villain  who  hath  wronged  me. 

Mes.  We,  near  the  beach,  oft  dashed  by  the  hoarse 
Of  ocean,  smoothed  his  generous  coursers'  manes, 
Yet  weeping.     For  a  messenger  arrived 
With  tidings  that  Hippolytus  no  more 
Would  to  this  realm  be  suffered  to  return. 
Sentenced  by  you  to  miserable  exile. 
But,  to  confirm  this  piteous  tale,  soon  came 
The  banished  prince,  and  joined  us  on  the  strand, 
A  numerous  group  of  comrades  on  his  steps 
Attended.    After  a  long  pause,  he  said, 
Ceasing  his  plaints  :  "Why  still  should  I  lament 
My  doom,  my  father's  word  must  be  obeyed  : 
Those  steeds,  ye  servants,  harness  to  the  car  ; 
Troezene  is  no  longer  my  abode." 
Soon  as  we  heard,  all  hastened  :  these  commands 
Scarce  was  there  time  to  issue,  when  we  brought 
The  ready  coursers  harnessed  to  their  lord  : 
Mounting  his  chariot  then  the  reins  he  seized, 


When  he  his  feet  had  in  strong  buskins  clad  : 

But  first  with  hands  outspread  invoked  the  gods, 

And  cried  :  "  O  righteous  Jove,  here  end  my  life 

If  I  have  sinned  :  but  let  my  father  know 

How  much  he  wrongs  us,  whether  we  expire 

Or  still  behold  the  light."     "With  lifted  thong 

The  rapid  coursers  onward  then  he  drove  ; 

We  servants  close  behind  our  master's  car 

Followed,  along  the  Epidaurian  road, 

Which  leads  direct  to  Argos.     But  at  length, 

Passing  the  limits  of  this  realm,  we  entered 

A  wilderness  adjoining  to  the  coast 

Of  the  Saronian  deep  :  a  dreadful  soimd 

W^as  from  the  inmost  caverns  of  the  earth 

Sent  forth,  like  Jove's  own  thunder,  while  the  steeds. 

Astonished,  with  their  heads  and  ears  erect 

Towards  Heaven,  stopped  short.     An  instant  terror  seized 

On  all  of  us  ;  we  wondered  whence  the  sound 

Could  issue,  till  at  length,  as  on  the  beach 

We  looked,  a  mighty  wave  we  saw,  which  reached 

The  skies,  and  from  our  view  concealed  the  cliffs 

Of  Sciron,  the  whole  isthmus  covered  o'er, 

And  ^sculapius'  rock,  then  to  a  size 

The  most  enormous  swollen,  and  pouring  forth 

With  loud  explosion  foam  on  every  side. 

The  tide  impelled  it  onward  to  the  coast 

Where  stood  the  harnessed  steeds  ;  amid  the  storm 

And  whirlwind's  rage  the  wave  disgorged  a  bull. 

Ferocious  monster,  with  whose  bellowings  filled. 

All  earth  resounded  horribly  :  our  eyes  ' 

Scarce  could  endure  the  sight.     With  panic  fear 

The  steeds  were  seized  that  instant :  but  meantime 

Their  lord,  who  to  the  managing  them  long 

Had  been  inured,  caught  up  uith  both  his  hands 

The  reins,  and  drew  them  tight,  as  the  rude  onr 

A  sailor  plies  ;  exerting  all  his  strength, 

Then  backward  leaned,  and  twisted  them  around 

His  body :  but  the  raging  coursers  gnashed 

Their  steely  curbs,  and  scoured  along  the  field 


Regardless  of  the  hand  that  steered  their  course, 
Or  rein  or  polished  car.     Along  the  plain, 
If  he  attempted  their  career  to  guide, 
The  bull  in  front  appeared,  to  turn  them  back. 
And  e'en  to  madness  scared :  but  if  they  ran 
Close  to  the  shelving  rocks  with  frantic  rage, 
•He,  silently  approaching,  followed  hard 
Behind  the  chariot ;  'gainst  a  rugged  cliff, 
Till  he  the  wheel  directing,  had  o'erthrown 
The  vehicle.     'Twas  dire  confusion  all : 
Upward  the  spokes  and  shivered  axle  flew  ; 
The  hapless  youth,  entangled  in  the  reins, 
Confined  by  an  inextricable  bond, 
Was  dragged  along;  against  the  rock  his  head 
With  violence  was  dashed,  and  his  whole  body 
Received  full  many  a  wound.     These  horrid  words 
He  uttered  with  a  shriek :  "  Stop,  O  my  steeds, 
Nor  kill  the  master  in  whose  stalls  ye  fed  I 
O  dreadful  imprecations  of  my  sire  ! 
Who  is  at  hand  to  save  a  virtuous  man  ?" 
Though  mr.ny  wished  to  rescue  him,  too  late 
We  came.     But  from  the  broken  reins  released, 
At  length,  I  know  not  by  what  means,  he  fell, 
In  a  small  portion  yet  the  breath  of  life 
Retaining.     But  the  horses,  from  all  eyes, 
And  that  accursed  monster,  were  concealed 
Among  the  mountains,  where  I  cannot  tell. 
Though  I  indeed,  O  king,  am  in  your  house 
A  servant,  yet  I  never  can  be  brought 
To  thinlf  your  son  was  with  such  guilt  defiled, 
Though  the  whole  race  of  women  should  expire 
Suspended  in  the  noose,  and  every  pine 
On  Ida's  summit  were  with  letters  filled  ; 
So  well  am  I  convinced  that  he  was  virtuous. 

Chor.  The  measure  of  our  recent  woes  is  full  : 
No  means,  alas,  are  left  for  us  to  'scape 
The  sentence  of  unalterable  fate. 

The.  From  hatred  to  the  man  who  hath  endured 
These  sufferings  I  with  pleasure  heard  thy  tale  : 


But  now  through  a  just  reverence  for  the  gods, 
And  for  that  wretch,  because  he  was  my  son, 
I  from  his  woes  nor  joy  nor  sorrow  feel. 

Mes.  But  whither  must  we  bear  the  dying  youth, 
To  gratify  your  wish,  or  how  proceed  ? 
Consider  well :  but  if  you  would  adopt 
My  counsels,  you  with  harshness  would  not  treat 
Your  hapless  son. 

The.  The  miscreant  hither  bring  ; 

That  I,  when  face  to  face  I  shall  behold 
Him  who  denies  that  he  my  nuptial  bed 
Polluted,  may  convict  him  by  my  words, 
And  these  calamities  the  gods  inflict.     {Exit  MESSENGER. 
Chor.  To  yours,  O  Venus,  and  your  son's  control, 
Whose  gUttering  pinions  speed  his  flight, 
The  gods  incline  their  stubborn  soul, 
And  mortals  yielding  to  resistless  might. 
For,  o'er  land  and  stormy  main, 
Love  is  borne,  who  can  restrain 

By  more  than  magic  art 
Each  furious  impulse  of  the  heart : 
Savage  whelps  on  mountains  bred, 
Monsters  in  the  ocean  fed, 
All  who  on  earth  behold  the  solar  ray, 
And  man,  his  mild  behests  obey. 
For  you,  O  Venus,  you  alone 
Sit  on  an  unrivalled  throne. 
By  each  duteous  votary  feared, 
As  a  mighty  queen  revered. 

Diana,  Theseus,  Chorus. 

DiA.  Thee,  sprung  from  noble  ^geus,  I  command 
To  listen,  for  to  thee  Diana  speaks, 
The  daughter  of  Latona.     Why,  O  Theseus, 
Do  these  disastrous  tidings  fill  thy  heart 
With  pleasure,  when  unjustly  thou  hast  slain 
Thy  son,  the  false  assertions  of  thy  consort 
On  no  clear  proof  beheving  ?    Yet  too  clear 
Is  the  atrocious  guilt  thou  hast  incurred. 


Covered  with  shame,  why  hid'st  thou  not  thy  head 

In  gloomy  Tartarus,  in  the  realms  beneath  ; 

Or,  this  abhorred  pollution  to  escape, 

On  active  wings  why  mount'st  thou  not  the  skies  ? 

In  the  society  of  virtuous  men 

Thou  canst  not  pass  the  remnant  of  thy  life. 

Hear  me,  O  Theseus,  while  I  state  the  ills 

In  which  thou  art  involved  :  though  now  to  thee 

It  can  avail  no  longer,  thy  regret 

Will  I  excite.     The  purposes  I  came  for 

Are  these  :  to  show  that  to  thy  son  belongs 

An  upright  heart,  how  to  preserve  his  fame 

His  life  he  loses,  and  that  frantic  rage 

Thy  consort  seized,  whose  conduct  hath  in  part 

Been  generous  :  for,  with  lawless  passion  stun 2^, 

By  that  pernicious  goddess,  whom  myself, 

And  all  to  whom  virginity  is  dear. 

Peculiarly  abhor,  she  loved  thy  son, 

And  while  she  strove  by  reason  to  o'ercome 

Th'  assaults  of  Venus,  unconsenting  fell 

By  those  vile  stratagems  her  nurse  devised, 

Who  to  thy  son  the  queen's  disease  revealed 

Under  the  awful  sanction  of  an  oath  ; 

But  he,  by  justice  rendered  strong,  complied  not 

With  her  solicitations,  yet  no  wrongs 

Which  he  from  thee  experienced  could  provoke 

The  pious  youth  to  violate  that  faith 

Which  he  had  sworn  to.     She  meanwhile  alarmed, 

Lest  to  his  father  he  her  guilt  should  prove. 

Wrote  that  deceitful  letter,  on  thy  soul 

Gaining  too  prompt  a  credence,  and  thy  son 

Hath  by  her  baleful  artifice  destroyed. 

The.  Ah  me ! 

DiA.  Doth  what  I  have  already  spoken, 
O  Theseus,  wound  thee  ?    To  the  sequel  lend 
A  patient  ear,  and  thou  shalt  find  just  cause 
To  wail  yet  more.     Thou  know'st  thy  sire  engaged 
That  thy  petitions  thrice  he  would  fulfil ; 
And  one  of  these,  O  thou  most  impious  man, 


Which  might  have  slain  some  foe,  hast  thou  employed 

In  the  destruction  of  thy  son.     Thy  father, 

Who  rules  the  ocean,  though  to  thee  a  friend, 

Gave  what  he  promised,  by  strict  honour  bound. 

But  thou  to  him,  as  well  as  me,  must  seem 

Devoid  of  worth,  who  waiting  for  no  oath 

To  be  administered,  nor  till  the  seers 

Could  uiter  a  response,  or  length  of  time 

Enable  thee  to  search  into  the  truth, 

Thy  curses  hast  too  hastily  poured  forth 

Against  thy  son,  and  slain  him. 

The.  Awful  queen, 

Would  I  were  dead  I 

DiA.  Thou  hast  committed  crimes 

Most  horrid  ;  but  mayst  haply  still  obtain 
Heaven's  gracious  pardon  :  since  at  the  behest 
Of  Venus  these  calamitous  events 
Took  place  to  satiate  her  relentless  ire. 
For  'tis  a  law  among  the  gods  that  none 
Shall  thwart  another's  will ;  we  all  renounce 
Such  interference.     Else  be  thou  assured 
Had  I  not  dreaded  Jove,  into  such  shame 
I  never  would  have  fall'n,  nor  suffered  him 
Whom  I  hold  dearest  of  the  human  race 
To  perish.     As  for  thy  offence,  thou  first, 
By  ignorance,  from  malice  art  absolved  ; 
Again,  thy  consort,  the  deceased,  used  words 
Of  strong  persuasion  to  mislead  thy  soul . 
Now  by  the  mighty  conflux  of  these  woes 
Thou  chiefly  art  o'crwhelmed  :  but  I,  too,  grieve. 
For  in  a  good  man's  death  the  righteous  gods 
Rejoice  not,  with  their  children  and  their  house, 
Though  we  the  wicked  utterly  destroy. 

HiPPOLYTUS,  Diana,  Theseus,  Chorus. 

Chor.  Here  comes  the  hapless  youth,  his  graceful  frame 
And  auburn  locks  disfigured.     Wretched  house  ! 
What  twofold  woes,  through  Heaven's  supreme  behest, 
Invade  this  family  ! 


Hip.  How  am  I  rent, 

Ah  me  !  through  those  unrighteous  vows  pronounced 
By  an  unrighteous  father  !     Through  my  head 
Shoot  dreadful  pangs,  and  strong  convulsions  rend 
My  tortured  brain.     Ah  me  !     Lay  down  to  rest 
This  shattered  body  !     Ye  accursed  steeds, 
Though  fed  with  my  own  hand,  have  ye  destroyed 
And  slain  your  master.     Ah,  I  by  the  gods 
Entreat  you,  softly  handle,  O  my  friends, 
This  wounded  frame.     Who  stands  there  on  my  right .'' 
Carefully  raise  me  up,  and  bear  along 
With  even  step  a  wretch  who  hath  been  cursed 
By  his  mistaken  sire.     Jove,  righteous  Jove, 
Behold'st  thou  this  ?     I  who  devoutly  worshipped 
The  gods,  and  all  the  human  race  excelled 
In  chastity,  deprived  of  life  am  plunged 
Into  the  yawning  subterraneous  realms 
Of  Orcus.     Sure  I  exercised  in  vain 
Each  pious  toil  to  benefit  mankind. 
My  pangs  return  afresh.     Let  loose  your  hold  ! 
Come,  death,  thou  best  of  medicines.     Kill  mc  1  kill  mc 
O  for  a  sword  to  pierce  my  heart,  and  close 
In  endless  slumbers  this  detested  life. 
How  inauspicious  was  my  father's  curse  ! 
That  lingering  vengeance  which  pursues  the  guilt 
By  my  progenitors  in  ancient  days 
Committed,  and  my  kindred  who  are  stained 
With  recent  murders,  terminate  in  me, 
No  longer  now  suspended.     O  ye  gods, 
Why  do  ye  punish  me  who  had  no  share 
In  those  enormities  ?     But  in  what  words 
Can  I  express  myself,  or  how  escape 
From  the  oppressive  numbness  which  weighs  down 
My  senses  ?    Would  to  Heaven  the  fates  who  haunt 
Pluto's  abode,  the  realm  of  ancient  night. 
Would  lay  me  down  in  everlasting  sleep  ! 

DiA.  With  what  calamity,  O  hapless  youth, 
Hast  thou  been  yoked  !     It  is  thy  generous  soul 
Which  hath  destroyed  thee. 


Hip.  From  celestial  lips 

How  doth  a  fragrant  odour  breathe  around  ! 
Amid  my  sufferings  thee  did  I  perceive, 
The  pangs  I  feel  were  instantly  assuaged. 
Diana  sure  is  here. 

DiA.  Beside  thee  stands 

Thy  favourite  goddess. 

Hip.  Dost  thou  see  my  woes, 

0  thou  whom  I  adore  ? 

DiA.  These  eyes  behold 

What  thou  endur'st  ;  but  they  no  tear  must  shed. 

Hip.  Thy  faithful  comrade  in  the  sylvan  chase, 
Thy  votary  is  no  more. 

DiA.  Alas  !  no  more  ! 

Yet  e'en  in  death  to  me  thou  still  art  dear. 

Hip.  Nor  he  who  drove  thy  fiery  steeds,  and  watched 
Thy  images. 

DiA.  These  stratagems,  by  Venus, 

From  whom  all  mischief  takes  its  rise,  were  planned. 

Hip.  Too  well  I  know  the  goddess  who  destroyed  me. 

DiA.  For  her  neglected  homage  much  enraged 
Against  thee,  to  the  chaste  a  constant  foe. 

Hip.  Us  three  I  find  her  hatred  hath  undone. 

DiA.  Thy  father,  thou,  and  his  unhappy  wife 
Complete  that  number. 

Hip.  I  bewail  my  sire. 

DiA.  Him  by  her  arts  that  goddess  hath  misled. 

Hip.  To  you,  my  father,  this  event  hath  proved 
A  source  of  woes  abundant. 

The.  O  my  son, 

1  perish,  and  in  life  have  now  no  joy. 

Hip.  Yet  more  for  you,  \yho  have  been  thus  deluded, 
Than  for  myself,  I  grieve. 

The.  My  son,  I  gladly 

Would  die  to  save  thee. 

Hip.  Fatal  gifts  of  Neptune 

Your  father. 

The.  Now  most  earnestly  I  wish 

These  lips  had  never  uttered  such  a  prayer. 

3i8  .  EURIPIDES. 

Hip.  What  then  ?    You  would  have  slain  me,  such  your 

The.  Because  I  by  the  gods  was  then  deprived 
Of  understanding. 

Hip.  O  that  in  return 

Mankind  could  with  their  curses  blast  the  gods  I 

DiA.  Be  pacified  :  for  in  earth's  darksome  caves, 
The  rage  of  Venus  who  on  thee  hath  wreaked 
Such  horrors  for  thy  pure  and  virtuous  soul 
I  will  not  suffer  unatoned  to  rest. 
For  in  requital,  my  vindictive  hand 
With  these  inevitable  darts  shall  smite 
The  dearest  of  her  votaries.     But  on  thee 
These  sufferings  to  reward  will  1  bestow 
The  greatest  honours  in  Troezene's  realm  : 
For  to  thy  shade,  ere  jocund  Hymen  wave 
The  kindled  torch,  each  nymph  her  tresses  shorn 
Shall  dedicate,  and  with  abundant  tears 
For  a  long  season  thy  decease  bewail. 
In  their  harmonious  ditties  the  chaste  choir 
Of  virgins  ever  shall  record  thy  fate, 
Nor  pass  unnoticed  Phaedra's  hapless  love. 
But,  O  thou  son  of  vEgeus,  in  those  nnns 
Embrace  the  dying  youth  ;  for  'gainst  thy  will 
Didst  thou  destroy  him.     When  the  gods  ordain 
That  man  should  err,  he  cannot  disobey. 
This  counsel,  O  Hippolytus,  to  thee 
I  give  ;  no  hatred  to  thy  father  bear, 
For  well  thou  know'st  from  whence  thy  fate  arose. 
And  now  farewell !  for  I  am  not  allowed 
To  view  unholy  corses  of  the  slain, 
Or  with  the  pangs  of  those  who  breathe  their  last 
Pollute  these  eyes  :  too  clearly  I  discern 
That  thou  art  near  the  moment  of  thy  death.  [Exit  DiANA 

Hip.  Farewell,  blest  virgin,  grieve  not  thus  to  part 
From  a  most  faithful  votary,  who  with  thee 
Hath  long  held  converse.     With  my  sire  I  end 
All  strife  at  thy  behest ;  for  to  thy  words 
I  still  have  been  obedient.    Wretched  me ! 
Already  thickest  darkness  overspreads 


These  swimming  eyes.     My  father,  in  your  arms 
Receive  me,  and  support  this  sinking  frame. 

The.  How,  O  my  son,  dost  thou  increase  my  woes  I 

Hip.  I  perish,  and  already  view  the  gates 
Of  yon  drear  realms  beneath. 

The.  But  wilt  thou  leave 

My  soul  polluted  ? 

Hip.  No,  from  the  foul  crime 

You  I  absolve. 

The.  What  saidst  thou  ?     Shall  the  stain 

Of  having  shed  thy  blood  no  longer  rest 
On  me  thy  murderer  ? 

Hip.  Let  Diana  witness. 

Who  with  her  shafts  subdues  the  savage  brood. 

The.  How  generous  is  this  treatment  of  thy  sire*, 
My  dearest  son  ! 

Hip.  Farewell  I  a  long  adieu 

I  bid  to  you,  my  father. 

The.  Ah,  how  pious, 

How  virtuous  is  thy  soul ! 

Hip.  Implore  the  gods 

That  all  your  race  legitimate  may  tread 
In  the  same  path. 

The.  Desert  me  not,  my  son  : 

Take  courage. 

Hip.  It  is  now,  alas  !  too  late. 

For,  O  my  sire,  I  die.     Make  no  delay, 
But  with  this  garment  cover  o'er  my  face.  \He  dies. 

The.  Minerva's  fortress,  thou  Athenian  realm. 
Of  what  a  virtuous  prince  art  thou  deprived  ! 
Ah,  wretched  me  !  how  oft  shall  I  reflect, 
O  Venus,  on  the  ills  which  thou  hast  caused. 

Chor.  On  our  whole  city  hath  this  public  loss 
Fallen  unforeseen.     Abundant  tears  shall  flow. 
When  bleed  the  mighty,  their  sad  history  leaves 
A  more  profound  impression  on  the  heart. 





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